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Drug checking takes on elevated role as illicit fentanyl sweeps country and fuels surge in overdose deaths (BCCSU)

Kyle Besaw, left, drug checking tech aid with Vancouver Coastal Health, and Trey Helten, right, supervisor at the Overdose Prevention Society safe injection site, check samples of heroin for fentanyl and other substances in Vancouver, British Columbia, July 11, 2019. (Photo Credit: RAFAL GERSZAK/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Kyle Besaw, left, drug checking tech aid with Vancouver Coastal Health, and Trey Helten, right, supervisor at the Overdose Prevention Society safe injection site, check samples of heroin for fentanyl and other substances in Vancouver, British Columbia, July 11, 2019. (Photo Credit: RAFAL GERSZAK/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Kyle Besaw carefully tips over a small, paper cup, pouring a tiny, bluish-green pebble onto the plate of a drug-checking machine. With a metal tool, he positions the sample over a tiny crystal and lowers a clamp.

The woman who purchased the drug and asked for it to be checked expects it to be fentanyl. But she’s worried it may also contain benzodiazepines – a class of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders that is now being cut into the local illicit supply.

The following year, the city and the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) purchased a portable Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer – a device that can test a range of substances and identify multiple compounds at once within a couple of minutes – and made it available at rotating VCH sites.

Read the full story on The Globe and Mail.

 

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