FILE - In this June 6, 2017, file photo, a reporter holds up an example of the amount of fentanyl that can be deadly after a news conference about deaths from fentanyl exposure, at DEA Headquarters in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January: B.C. coroner

Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than illicit fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants

Overdoses led to 90 deaths in the first month of 2019, with more than one-in-ten of those caused by carfentanil – a deadly opioid 100 times stronger than illicit fentanyl.

The BC Coroners Service said Tuesday that there were roughly 3 deaths per day in B.C. in January.

Carfentanil, a powerful narcotic used to tranquilize elephants, was detected in 13 toxicology reports. That’s compared to 35 deaths in 2018 and 71 deaths in the second half of 2017.

READ MORE: B.C.’s top doctor cites ‘trial batch,’ as possible link to rash of drug overdoses

READ MORE: China, RCMP ink deal to battle flow of deadly fentanyl

Illicit fentanyl was responsible for 87 per cent of the 1,510 overdose deaths last year, oftentimes taken unknowingly within cocaine, crystal meth and heroin. Fatal overdoses where fentanyl was not detected amounts to roughly 285 deaths per year.

READ MORE: Fentanyl-linked overdose deaths soar in B.C.

READ MORE: B.C. launches new drug-checking program, expands fentanyl testing

In January, a total of 24 people died in Vancouver, followed by eight in Surrey and five in Victoria.

Roughly 85 per cent occurred inside. Not a single death happened at an overdose prevention site or safe consumption site.


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