WINNIPEG - Manitoba is setting up a task force to look at problems associated with the drug fentanyl.

Attorney General Gord Mackintosh and Health Minister Sharon Blady say the province will spend $500,000 on antidote kits for drug users, as well as a public awareness campaign.

Mackintosh says the powerful drug is a ruthless killer and it must be stopped before it gets out of control.

Fentanyl has been blamed for more than 650 deaths across Canada in the last six years.

Medical officer of health Joss Reimer says fentanyl was associated with 29 deaths last year -- almost double previous years.

The opioid is used as a painkiller for terminally ill cancer patients and is 100 times more powerful than heroin.