With drug overdose deaths on the rise in 2017, the B.C. Government announced a new drug-checking service being tested in Vancouver.
The pilot project is the first of its kind in Canada and aims to provide potentially life-saving information to people who use drugs.
The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is also expanding the use of fentanyl test strips in all supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites in the province.
The B.C. Coroners Service released data Thursday reporting more than 1,100 people have died from drug overdoses in 2017, with fentanyl detected in 83 per cent of those deaths.
“With dangerous drugs like fentanyl contaminating the majority of street drugs, giving people information on what’s in the substances they are using can help them make informed decisions about whether or how much they consume – and could save lives,” Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy said.
The City of Vancouver partnered with the B.C. Centre on Substance Use to fund the purchase and operation of a specialized drug-checking machine for a pilot project to evaluate the effectiveness of drug-checking services.
Drug checking allows people to anonymously submit samples of street drugs to be analyzed for their chemical makeup.
The province is spending $3 million for drug testing in the province, part of $322 million over three years to combat the overdose crisis and improve addictions care.
The test strips pilot will be rolled out to the remaining sites throughout the province in the coming weeks.