Illicit drug overdose deaths in BC this year have now surpassed 2019 total

Sep 23 2020, 11:13 am

The BC Coroners Service (BCCS) has published updated reports on illicit drug toxicity deaths and fentanyl-detected drug deaths to the end of August 2020, with 147 illicit drug toxicity deaths reported in the month.

According to the BCCS, this total represents a 71% increase over the number of deaths in August 2019 (86) but a 16% decrease from the number of deaths in July 2020 (176).

With these latest figures, the BCCS said the province has now recorded six consecutive months with over 100 illicit drug toxicity deaths.

In total, there have been 1,068 illicit drug overdose deaths in BC this year. The BCCS noted this eight-month total is already higher than the number of overdose deaths that were seen in all of 2019.

“Once again, post-mortem toxicology testing data published in this most recent report suggests an increase in the number of cases with extreme fentanyl concentrations (exceeding 50 micrograms per litre) in April, May, June, July and August 2020 compared with previous months,” the BCCS said in a release. “From April to August 2020, approximately 14% of illicit drug deaths showed signs of extreme fentanyl concentrations compared with 8% from January 2019 to March 2020.

The number of non-fatal overdose incidents has also increased significantly. BC Emergency Health Services reported close to 7,500 overdose calls throughout BC, this summer, making it the highest number of overdose calls ever recorded in a three-month stretch.

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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