Fraser Valley/Victoria -This is the media release from the Province. There will be numbers and stats of those not in the report or homeless who slipped through the cracks of the system.
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Media Release: The number of illicit drug deaths continued to drop slightly in August but the number of deaths from illicit drug use remains significantly increased from previous years, the latest statistics from the BC Coroners Service show.
In the first eight months of 2016 (Jan. 1 through Aug. 31), the total number of deaths from illicit drug use was 488, an increase of 61.6% from the same time period in 2015.
The total number of illicit drug deaths in July was 49, down from 55 in the previous month. (The numbers for the previous month change slightly as the result of further investigation of some deaths.)
“But perhaps the best news,” said chief coroner Lisa Lapointe, “is that for the first time this year, the total number of deaths in August was smaller than for the same month in 2015.”
Fentanyl remains a major contributor to the high number of deaths. From Jan. 1 through July 31, 2016, there were a total of 264 deaths in which fentanyl was detected, about 60% of all illicit drug deaths. That number is more than triple the number of fentanyl-detected deaths for the same period last year.
Lapointe stresses that the small reduction in death numbers should not lead to any sense of complacency on the part of those using drugs, their friends or families.
On September 20, 2016, the Ministry of Health approved the College of Pharmacists of B.C. request to amend to the BC Drug Schedules Regulation to deregulate and unschedule emergency use naloxone. This change allows the life-saving overdose treatment to be sold at locations beyond pharmacies, meaning health care sites, treatment centres and community agencies can carry and sell naloxone. B.C. is the first province in the country to deregulate naloxone.
The BC Coroners Service continues to work with health, community and law enforcement agencies and with the provincial government’s Joint Task Force on Overdose Response to try to reduce this death toll.
The updated report on illicit drug deaths can be found at: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/death-investigation/statistical/illicit-drug.pdf
The updated report on the number of deaths involving fentanyl can be found at: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/death-investigation/statistical/fentanyl-detected-overdose.pdf