Provincial lab testing confirms that carfentanil is being ingested by drug users in the Lower Mainland.
Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid normally used as a sedative for large animals like elephants, and 100 times more toxic than fentanyl.
Urine lab testing by LifeLabs found carfentanil present in 57 of 1766 urine drug tests that were conducted from Jan. 10 to 24.
These 57 positive tests came from treatment facilities in Vancouver, Surrey, New Westminster, Maple Ridge, and Richmond.
“This is a limited sample size but does provide confirmation of the presence of carfentanil in B.C.,” a provincial government press release says.
In 2016, 914 British Columbians died from overdoses.
Carfentanil surveillance reports are now being sent weekly to the Ministry of Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control.
Meanwhile, the press release said police are prioritizing “investigative resources to target traffickers of these deadly illegal drugs,” which are believed to be coming from China.
In November, the RCMP and China’s public security ministry signed a memorandum of understanding to join efforts in combating the illegal trafficking of fentanyl.
“Under proposed federal amendments to legislation with are currently before the federal legislature, the Canada Border Services Agency will also soon have new powers to inspect packages under 30g, which will assist with interdiction of small quantities of these illicit drugs.”