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