BC braces for arrival of powerful painkiller W-18

published on March 2, 2016 by Nick Eagland in The Star Phoenix

Drug experts fear BC won’t be ready to deal with the devastating impact of the powerful painkiller W-18 when it inevitably hits the province’s streets.

Already, health officials and first responders are scrambling in response to a surge in overdoses from the potent, synthetic opiate fentanyl, which was detected in 146 illicit drug deaths in 2015, up from 91 in 2014, according to BC Coroners Service data.

Dr. Keith Ahamad, a clinician scientist at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, also said harm reduction through naloxone is important, but not the solution to W-18.

“A huge component of the problem, really, is untreated opiate-use disorder, and without a real concerted effort to engage with this population in an evidence-based way, we’re really … missing the boat here,” he said.

“Right now we have a treatment system in British Columbia that’s operating outside of best evidence-based guidelines. We have a physician population here that (is) not appropriately trained to both recognize and diagnose, and to treat addiction, in an evidence-based way.”

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