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

Health officials speculate on reasons for nine overdoses in five days in the Interior

It was a staggering start to January for communities in the Interior Health region, with nine people dying from drug overdoses within a five day period – a harsh reality of the creation and distribution of illicit drugs.

Sometimes referred to as “bad batches” or “clusters,” the distribution of illegal drugs with potent amounts of fentanyl – and in a few cases carfentanil – has been the culprit behind a handful of these kinda of deaths across the province.

Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall suggested the deaths may be due to a new dealer entering the region, “who doesn’t know how to mix the drugs in anything-less-than a dangerous way.”

“These deaths might represent the first sort of trial batch that somebody’s mixed up and put out into the community,” he said.

READ MORE: Police fear fewer fentanyl imports don’t signal the end of the overdose crisis

Although she said she could only speculate, health officials believe these kinds of spikes in death carry a strong link to a specific supply of contaminated drugs, said Dr. Patricia Daly, executive director of the B.C. Overdose Emergency Response Centre.

“That’s often when you see clusters or rises in death, from a more contaminated drug supply,” Daly said during a news conference Wednesday, adding that clusters of deaths are investigated through the B.C. Coroners Service.

Black Press Media reached out to comment from the RCMP on its investigation into the deaths, but a spokesperson for the force declined to comment.

Not the first cluster of overdoses since fentanyl increase

In the summer of 2017, Fraser Health Authority released a warning similar to IHA’s alert on Jan. 26, after five people died from overdoses within nine hours in Abbotsford.

Officials urged drug users to not do drugs alone, to not mix different drugs and to carry naloxone.

Vancouver Coastal Health, serving the region seeing the lions share of drug overdose deaths, have taken increased measures to get the word out when bad drugs are detected on the streets.

The RADAR pilot project was launched in July, a texting service that sends an alert to those signed up when emergency crews attend to a number of overdose in a certain area within a short time frame.

Kendall has urged British Columbians in the past to become informed about the federal Good Samaritan Law, which protects people from charges of possession if they call 9-1-1 to report an overdose.

Just Posted

Tour de Victoria rolls through the region Saturday

Expect traffic delays across Greater Victoria on Aug. 18

Fire chief stops driving lesson to fight fire

Sooke fire concerned over second suspicious bin fire this year

Victoria police seize over one kilo of fentanyl, guns and cars

Andrew Ritch is facing charges of drug trafficking and firearm offences

UPDATE: Missing Langford teen found safe

The 13-year-old Langford boy reported missing Wednesday has been found

Six Victoria firefighters head to B.C. Interior to combat wildfires

The Victoria Fire Department sent a water tender and fire truck to Fort St. James

B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

18,000 people are on an evacuation alert, with 3,000 homes under an evacuation order

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

Most Read