Police warn of Fentanyl misuse

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 11:59 a.m. August 17, 2015
Updated: 3:38 p.m. August 18, 2015

A sharp spike in fentanyl-related deaths in Vancouver has resulted in Toronto police issuing a public warning about the potent effect of the drug.

Two photos side by side, one of packed Fentanyl and one of a Fentanyl patch
What Fentanyl packages and patches look like. According to police scraping off this medication and smoking it or sucking the drug out of the patch can be lethal.

Two weeks ago, the drug was suspected in at least 16 overdoes on one day, including six in an hour.

At a press conference at police headquarters on August 17, Inspector Howie Page of the Toronto Police Drug Squad said the Service has a responsibility to inform and educate the public in order to prevent harm to citizens and communities.

“Although the landscape of the problem differs between Vancouver and Toronto, it’s important to examine similarities so as not to be naïve to the potential of shifting trends of a fluid drug culture,” he pointed out.

Page said fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid prescribed to combat severe pain.

“It’s approximately 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and about 40 times more potent than heroin,” he noted. “If it’s prescribed, patients will wear a trans-dermal patch enabling the release of medications slowly over a number of days…Because the patch is made for a 72-hour slow release, scraping off this medication and smoking it or sucking the drug out of the patch can make a single patch, in fact, lethal.”


A man in a suit standing next to a tv screen that shows pills
Drug Squad Inspector Howie Page warned citizens of the dangers of using Fentanyl for recreational purposes.

It’s approximately 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and about 40 times more potent than heroin

Photo of small blue and green pills in a plastic bag
A photo of what potential OxyContin pills with Fentanyl mixed in could look like.

While Toronto police are yet to see a saturation of fentanyl in the city, imitation OxyContin tablets containing fentanyl have been seized in the city.

Last week, Toronto Police advised the public about a number of fentanyl patches that were stolen from a vehicle in North York.

“The perpetrator of this act, or anyone who may come in to contact with these patches, may or may not know the risk involved with this substance,” said Page. “These incidents are of great concern to the Toronto Police Service and there exists a need to warn the public of the potential danger of the use of drugs that have the drug fentanyl. The consumption of any drug, including fentanyl, is not one without great risk.”

The symptoms from knowingly or unknowingly using fentanyl are slow breathing, nausea, constipation, drowsiness, unconsciousness, coma and potential death.

Anyone with information of persons selling fentanyl packages or OxyContin tablets is  asked to call the Drug Squad at (416) 808-6100, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−TIPS (8477), online at  222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook.

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