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Stronger Opioids, Like Carfentanil, Leading to Shortage of Antidote in Vancouver Area

  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Emergency room doctors and nurses in Vancouver suspect a drug originally used to tranquillize elephants might be the reason they've had to drastically increase their supply of a life-saving opioid antidote.

    Carfentanil is the most toxic form of synthetic opioid. Authorities believe it's being manufactured in clandestine labs in Asia and smuggled to Canada in small packages.

    At St. Paul's Hospital in downtown Vancouver, the doctors and nurses who treat a constant stream of overdose patients believe they're seeing the drug's dangerous effects up close.

    Dr. Kevin Nemethy says a single dose of opioid antidote naloxone (brand name Narcan) used to be enough to wake up an overdose patient.

    "Now we are not finding the desired effect until we give 10 times the dose or even 20 times the dose of naloxone," he told CBC News during a particularly busy shift on Nov. 24 — the day after the last provincial social assistance cheques were issued.

    Tanya Campbell, the emergency department's nurse leader, says the number of overdoses is overwhelming and the patients appear to be taking stronger drugs.

    "We actually start them on a continuous drip of Narcan, if they are not waking up," she said. "Sometimes we have to take over their airway till they get the drugs out of their system and they wake up."

    B.C. Lab Can't Test for Carfentanil

    She says she believes some patients get tricked into buying opioids like carfentanil when they think they're buying heroin.

    Vancouver police have confirmed they've seized drugs containing carfentanil. But the province's coroner has yet to confirm how many of the 755 overdose deaths in B.C. so far this year are linked to the drug because its toxicology centre can't test for it.

    The Provincial Health Services Authority says the lab received the necessary licence last week, but equipment needs to be calibrated and testing for carfentanil won't start for two to three months.

    Alberta's lab is already equipped and has linked the drug to 15 deaths.

    By Natalie Clancy - The CBC/Dec. 18, 2016
    Photo: Frederick Gagnon, cbc
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. in.pain
    Re: Stronger Opioids, Like Carfentanil, Leading to Shortage of Antidote in Vancouver

    carfentanil is spreading as its really cheap and 100's of times stronger then most drugs and its being mixed into everything. . . Green Monsters Oxy 80's are being pressed using the original die presses making it impossible to know what's real. Many don't have the knowledge or correct mixing abilities and as carfentanil is measured in micro-grains many batcheds or pills have HOT spots (A killing dose of carfentanil) Last Friday in Vancouver over 40 OD'd. . . of the 40 13 died, 8 more died on Saturday. . . carfentanil Is in the US and has arrived in Toronto
  2. Beenthere2Hippie
    Re: Stronger Opioids, Like Carfentanil, Leading to Shortage of Antidote in Vancouver

    I am more than sorry to hear that, my friend, but thankful for your report. If you would be so kind as to send me any links you get to news stories in your area in Canada of particular bad batches circulating so I or other news folk can post them and inform others we news crew would be forever indebted to you.

    Hope you have a glorious new year. You are more than ripe for it. :)
  3. in.pain
    Re: Stronger Opioids, Like Carfentanil, Leading to Shortage of Antidote in Vancouver

    News happens many times a day buy only goes national when the death rates spike as in the 13 death's in one day. . . First responders are worn out and afraid as something the size of a salt grain can kill and all are wearing hazmet suits. Narcan is being increased and it was mentioned a few days ago it took 24 vials to bring back a woman who OD'd.

    What's not being mentioned and has everyone terrified is W-18's arrival in Vancouver as its much stronger then Carfentanil and Narcan has NO effect on it. . .

    Death rates are going to increase and again its in everything with no way of knowing what's real or what's fake.
  4. Name goes here
    Re: Stronger Opioids, Like Carfentanil, Leading to Shortage of Antidote in Vancouver

    "Carfentanil is the most toxic form of synthetic opioid." That's a bold statement. I assume they are trying to imply it's so deadly because of its strength. I don't believe carfentanil is any more toxic then the parent drug. The research chemical AH-7921 is far, far less potent but from a toxicity standpoint, it's many times more dangerous. Skin problems, hair turning white then falling out, ringing in the ears and I remember reading something about potentially damaging nerves. That stuff is toxic.

    In pain, the w18 scare is somewhat overblown. It made great headlines but a lot of the information was wrong. There was a debate if it had any psychoactive effects or if it acts like a traditional opioid being that it isn't an opioid. I couldn't locate any proven deaths caused directly by w18 after a brief search. A lot of police suspect w18 has been the cause but I couldn't locate any documented proof.

    Is naloxone expensive? Paying out of pocket for the narcan nasal spray wasn't too bad so I would assume genetic naloxone would be cheap. Being the opioid problem isn't going away, why are more funds not going toward the antidote?
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