#HealthCanada, #opioidoverdoses, #fentanyl, #GinettePetitpasTaylor, #Ontario, #BritishColumbia, #Canada
Ottawa, Mar 28 (Canadian-Media): Figures released by Health Canada Mar 27 revealed a record number of Canadians died of opioid overdoses in 2017, media reports said.
The data reportedly showed 45 percent spike in fatal overdoses from 2016's 2,861 deaths, with 2,923 victims in just the first nine months of 2017.
According to government's predictions the final 2017 death toll from Canada's hard-drug epidemic will be more than 4,000, which will make overdoses into the top 10 causes of death for the first time.
72 percent of the overdose deaths are reportedly attributable to one drug, fentanyl.
Canadian Border Services made 156 seizures of illicit fentanyl between June 2016 and September 2017, mostly coming from China.
Police are increasingly seeing street drugs cut with fentanyl, making them more powerful and addictive.
And in the first three-quarters of its 2017-18 fiscal year, the agency reports that it has seized 11,497 grams of illicit fentanyl.
Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced new measures on Monday to make it easier for doctors to prescribe methadone and pharmaceutical-grade heroin.
Ginette Petitpas Taylor/Facebook page
But the numbers surrounding people who are seeking treatment for their opioid addictions are large.
In 1996, when methadone was much harder to access, Ontario had just 3,000 listed patients which increased to 38,000 in 2012.
The number under treatment in British Columbia hit 18,000 in 2017.
A fatal dose of the drug, which is up to 50 times more potent than heroin, can be as small as 2 milligrams.
More than 20 percent of Canadian seniors received at least one opioid prescription in 2015-16.
And in Ontario, close to 14 percent of the population had access to the strongest medicine available.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)