As suspected, fentanyl deaths continue to climb both in Edmonton and across Alberta. The latest report released by Alberta Health Services says fentanyl overdoses killed 113 people in Alberta during the first three months of year.
The Calgary region had 51 overdose deaths, while Edmonton had 36 in first quarter of 2017.
That’s a very slight decrease from October, November and December of last year where 119 Albertans lost their lives, and it’s a dramatic climb over the same period a year ago where 70 people died.
Other drugs are killing Albertans as well. Totals for 2016 show 196 overdoses from opioids other than fentanyl, where two thirds happened in the larger urban centres. Eighty-two people died in Edmonton, and 58 in Calgary.
The report also echoed what has been said about where the problem is, including in Edmonton’s inner city. When apparent fentanyl and other opioid overdose cases are combined, the report said, “drug overdose deaths per 100,000 was highest among the more centralized Local Geographic Areas when compared to the respective city rates. This includes Eastwood in (north-central) Edmonton.”
However deaths are city wide.
“Within Edmonton and Calgary, the majority of individuals who died of an apparent opioid (including fentanyl) drug overdose death lived in the non-central urban core,” the report said.
Naloxone kits have been available in Alberta pharmacies since January 2016. In May 2016, the province made the kits available without a prescription in Alberta. Naloxone is used to block the effects of opioids, including fentanyl.
Between Jan. 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, 8,544 naloxone kits were distributed in Alberta.
Alberta Health said the Edmonton Zone has had the largest volume of naloxone kits dispensed from community pharmacies, with an average of 116 kits per month. By comparison, an average of 107 naloxone kits are dispensed in the Calgary Zone each month.
– With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News
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