A research project has been created in Vancouver with the goal of identifying drug contaminations faster so that potentially lethal batches can be avoided by users.
The Vancouver Coastal Health Harm Reduction staff have been working with the BC Centre for Disease Control on new methods for people to report overdoses; as well as a description of the laced drugs, where the drugs were purchased, and the location of the overdose
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The Real-time Drug Alert and Response (RADAR) pilot project is testing different methods of reporting bad batches, including filling out a form online at http://www.vch.ca/overdose, and via text to (236)-999-DOPE (3673). Both methods of reporting can be done anonymously, and are currently up and running.
“253 people died in the [Vancouver Coastal Health] region from illegal drug overdose last year,” said Sara Young, regional leader of mental health and substance use at Vancouver Coastal Health, in a press release. “We desperately need to find a better way to quickly get messages out about bad batches of drugs so that people can take added precautions, and prevent overdosing.”
The system currently in place does look for anomalies in overdoses—which can potentially identify a bad batch—though it is often not until weeks after the data is collected that any alerts are put out.
“We’re excited about the potential of this reporting tool to help people not just in Vancouver, but also across the country,” said Dr. Jane Buxton of the BC Centre for Disease Control in the release. “This pilot project will help us determine what works and what needs to be improved, after which we hope to roll it out in other areas. Information is powerful—it will help us save lives.”
Further use of the project will be determined at the end of eight months.