Alberta looks into do-it-yourself fentanyl tests after positive results out of B.C.
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Alberta looks into do-it-yourself fentanyl tests after positive results out of B.C.

 A cheap and effective fentanyl-testing kit that has reduced overdoses at a Vancouver supervised injection site has health authorities looking at bringing it to Alberta.

 
Fentanyl overdoses have been a growing problem in Alberta, with the government reporting 349 deaths last year and 51 deaths in the first six weeks of 2017 — nearly double the numbers from last year.
 
Clients at Vancouver's Insite injection site were 10 times more likely to reduce their dose after a positive test, which reduced the chance of overdose by one-quarter.
 
Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said she's looking into it.
 
"Any opportunity we have to save lives is worth looking into further, so I've asked the chief medical officer of health to investigate this further," said Hoffman.
 
"For me, it really reinforces the need, no matter what you're using, to be able to do it in an environment that's supervised and reduces some of the risks."
 
The testing kits are paper strips, adapted from urine tests found at a doctor's office, and clients at the injection site can test drugs for fentanyl by diluting it with a few drops of water. The test shows a result in a few seconds.
 
Eighty-per-cent of drugs tested at Vancouver's Insite injection site tested positive for fentanyl over the course of the nine-month pilot project.
 
Mark Lysyshyn, a medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health, said it's not a perfect sample, because clients will be more likely to test drugs they suspect are contaminated.
 
Although four supervised injection sites are planned for Edmonton, Lysyshyn said he sees a greater role for the tests in the community, where people don't have the support the sites provide.
 
Lysyshyn has asked the manufacturer for a test that will alert users to other dangerous substances, like carfentanil, because the lower overdose numbers demonstrate that the tests are working.
 
Liberal interim leader David Swann, who has pilloried the government for not responding vigorously enough to the opioid problem, said he was pleased to read about the effectiveness of the tests.
 
"It's going to add tremendously to people's safety and security and decision-making," said Swann.
 
sxthomson@postmedia.com
 
twitter.com/stuartxthomson
source : Calgary SUN
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