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August overdose deaths remain high, but lower than July number

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 4:31 PDT, Wed September 23, 2020

Deaths due to illicit drugs in BC were lower in August than the previous month, but still higher than average.

The BC Coroners Service recently published updated reports on illicit drug toxicity deaths and fentanyl-detected drug deaths to the end of August, with 147 deaths reported in the month. This total represents a 71 per cent increase over the number of deaths last August (86) but a 16 per cent decrease from the number of deaths in July (176). 

The BC Coroners Service has detected a sustained increase of illicit drug toxicity deaths since March, and BC has now recorded six consecutive months with over 100 illicit drug toxicity deaths. Once again, post-mortem toxicology testing data published in this most recent report suggests an increase in the number of cases with extreme fentanyl concentrations (exceeding 50 micrograms per litre) in April, May, June, July and August compared with previous months. 

There have been 1,068 illicit drug deaths to date in 2020 in BC, based on preliminary data. The total number of illicit drug deaths in the first eight months of 2020 have surpassed the total for all of 2019. The number of non-fatal overdose incidents has also increased significantly. BC Emergency Health Services reports close to 7,500 overdose calls throughout BC this summer, making it the highest number of overdose calls ever recorded in a three-month stretch.
Illicit fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamines continue to be the top drugs involved in these drug deaths.

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