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First responders continue to attend a large number of potential drug overdose calls in BC, according to the BC Coroners Service.

In their most recent report, the agency states that while deaths related to illicit drug overdose are on a decline in British Columbia, the risk is far from over.

See also: Drug overdose deaths continue to decrease in Victoria: BC Coroners Service

There were 69 suspected drug toxicity deaths in October 2019 compared to 118 in October 2018, showing a marked 42% decrease.

However, the agency notes that between January and October 2019, BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) paramedics responded to more than 20,000 overdose calls around the province.

Data from BCEHS shows that when paramedics respond to a potential overdose, the patient has a 99% chance of survival.

“While Coroners Service data shows that the number of fatalities related to illicit drug toxicity has decreased this year, we know from our partners in health care that the number of non-fatal drug toxicity events remains high,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner.

“The drug supply in our province is unpredictable and perilous, and the long-term impacts of drug toxicity can be severe.”

Between 2016 and 2019, the top drugs involved in overdose deaths are illicit fentanyl and analogues (82.4%), cocaine (50.1%), and methamphetamine/amphetamine (33%).

In Victoria, there have been a total of 48 overdose deaths in 2019, and the Island Health Authority region has recorded 132 deaths so far this year.

(BC Coroners Service)

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