Chief medical officer issues furanyl-fentanyl warning after New Brunswick death
An OPP officer displays bags containing fentanyl as Ontario Provincial Police host a news conference in Vaughan, Ont., on February 23, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, March 21, 2019 12:00PM EDT
FREDERICTON -- As the opioid crisis continues across Canada, New Brunswick's chief medical officer is warning the public about furanyl-fentanyl following a recent death.
Dr. Jennifer Russell says a toxicology report revealed furanyl-fentanyl was found in the system of a person who died recently in northern New Brunswick.
"We are concerned that this most recent death may be an early indicator that furanyl-fentanyl is available in New Brunswick," said Russell.
"Furanyl-fentanyl is much more toxic than morphine. With only a quarter milligram dose resulting in fatalities and no way for the user to detect its presence, the presence of this drug in the province is very dangerous," she said.
Russell would not say exactly where or when the death occurred, or provide any information on the individual.
"One death is too many. We just want people to be aware. We want to reduce the stigma around our conversations around this issue. We want people to be more comfortable getting access to treatment and having conversations around opioid issues and substance abuse disorders," she said.
Russell said furanyl-fentanyl was also linked to two deaths in 2017 in New Brunswick, among 36 apparent opioid deaths in the province.
In September 2017, the RCMP seized pills containing furanyl-fentanyl during an investigation near Hartland in western New Brunswick.
The government says there were six apparent opioid deaths in the province in the first quarter of 2018, five of which were accidental or with "pending intent."
Health Canada reports there were more than 9,000 deaths across Canada between January 2016 and June 2018 related to opioids.
It says that in just the first six months of last year, 72 per cent of the apparent opioid related deaths involved fentanyl or fentanyl analogs.
While British Columbia has seen the worst of the crisis, numbers are increasing across the country.