More training for physicians key to fighting fentanyl addiction, BC doctor says

published on April 11, 2016 by Leif Larsen in CBC News

Dr. Seonaid Seonaid Nolanays doctors who prescribe opiates need to understand potential impact on streets

According to a BC fentanyl addiction expert, Manitoba doctors need to consider the long-term consequences before they prescribe opiates.

Dr.SeonaidNolan is a clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia who studies opiate addiction. She saidfentanylis an especially dangerous drug, because it is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

“Because it’s so highly potent, that increases the risk of opiate overdose, as it has significant respiratory depressing effects,”she said.

A Winnipegfentanyladdict agrees with Nolan. The person, who we’re calling “Amanda,” told CBC News the difference in strength is “why people are dying.”

“You never know what strength you’re getting,”Amanda said. “You could go from getting a very, very diluted form, to the next batch, which can be super, super strong.”

According to Amanda, several of her friends have died fromfentanyl, and she has “almost died a handful of times.

“I was resuscitated … and woke up on my kitchen floor,” she said.

In fact, Amanda nearly died just a couple of days before she spoke to CBC News.

“Unknowingly, I injected something that I thought was fentanyl, and it wasn’t,” said Amanda.

“I believe it was acid [LSD], mixed with fentanyl,” she continued.

Fentanyl deaths on rise in BC

According to the BC coroner’s service, the number of fentanyl-related deaths in that province has gone up ten-fold since 2012.

Seonaid Nolanaid fentanyl’s potency is one of the reasons it is being seen more often in Canada, since a smuggler can carry 50 to 100 times more doses than for a similar-sized shipment of morphine.

According to Nolan, some of the danger is also because fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and its production is not dependent on poppies. Because of this, “a small mistake in preparing or manufacturing or preparing the drug may result in a product that’s highly toxic or lethal when that may not be the intended outcome.”

Nolan also said, from her experience in hospitals, a significant number of patients didn’t realize they were taking fentanyl.

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