Pubdate: Mon, 20 Feb 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Vito Pilieci
Page: A1


Kotvals want action on counterfeit drugs; Kanata man details
daughter's struggles

The family of Chloe Kotval called on police and public officials on
Sunday to immediately address the availability of "high-grade
counterfeit pharmaceuticals" in the community.

Releasing a statement hours before her funeral, the grieving family
remembered Kotval as a "well-loved" and "warm" person who was
cherished by her friends before losing her life far too soon.

"Our beloved daughter, Chloe, was a sweet girl adored by family and
friends for her warmth, good nature and energy. This week, we have
become even more aware of how well-loved she was through the
outpouring of support by the community, the schools and services,"
Kotval's family said in a statement released to the Citizen.

"Our family is deeply grateful for every kind gesture of support,
large or small.

"The presence of high-grade counterfeit pharmaceuticals in our
community, and their devastating impact on families, is a serious
issue that needs to be addressed at a broader scale."

Kotval, 14, died on Valentine's Day from an apparent drug

It is still unclear what type of drug led to her death or where she
had obtained the drug. The family has said the teen's death was the
result of taking a pharmaceutical drug of unknown origin.

Her death came the day after Ottawa police and Ottawa Public Health
issued a public warning about counterfeit prescription drugs they
suspect have caused "recent life-threatening overdoses" in Ottawa. The
alert pointed out that counterfeit pills can be made to appear nearly
identical to prescription opioids such as OxyContin and Percocet. The
family's call for a greater spotlight to be placed on the counterfeit
drug issue came as a Kanata man released an open letter detailing his
own struggle with teen drug issues.

Sean O'Leary's 16-year-old daughter, Paige, struggles with addiction
issues. It's a topic that needs to be better addressed by the public,
he says.

"What hasn't been reported as of yet is that Chloe Kotval was the
third Kanata teenager to die of a drug overdose in the last eight
weeks," he writes in his open letter. "The two other children that
have died were a 17-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy. Sadly the
deaths that have occurred are only the beginning. If you look at
statistics from any other communities where the kids started getting
hooked on counterfeit opioids the prognosis for our community and our
children does not look promising."

In an interview on Sunday, O'Leary said his letter prompted more than
40 Kanata families struggling with teenagers addicted to drugs to
reach out to him in the hope of raising the profile of this issue.

"These kids are doing everything to make sure that we don't talk to
their friends' parents," O'Leary said. "All of us parents are living
in this nightmare by ourselves. There are 40 families of addict kids
in Kanata and if there are 40 (families) all watching out for
someone's daughter or son, there's more of a chance of keeping them

O'Leary said he hopes to capitalize on the new-found support to create
a group of parents who are dealing with drug-abuse issues at home in
an effort to begin to understand where the problem is coming from and
how the community can address it.

He also said he hopes to use the collective voice of the affected
families to lobby government for more access to treatment for
teenagers who are struggling with substanceabuse issues.

He said some sort of clinic for teenagers is urgently

"On Jan. 22, I grabbed my daughter off the streets - she'd been doing
(Percocet) for three days. We called the paramedics, got her to CHEO,
and the poor paramedics looked at me and said, 'I'm sorry the detox
beds are full. There's nothing we can do for you. You're on your own.'

O'Leary said the message he's hearing from other parents of affected
teens is eerily similar.

He said, while there are spots in clinics for the rehabilitation of
habitual drug users, getting the teens through the detoxification
process so they can attend those clinics is where the health-care
system breaks down.

He said people are left to deal with that in their homes and that
other programs in Ottawa, such as those offered by the Ottawa
Withdrawal Management Centre, are geared toward people over the age of
16. A similar program at the Royal Ottawa Hospital only has 12 beds.

Officials from CHEO were not available Sunday to comment about the
situation at the hospital.

According to a technical report released in June by the City of Ottawa
called Problematic Substance Use in Ottawa, officials estimate that as
many as 46,900 people in Ottawa are using illicit drugs (excluding
cannabis) or opioids taken for non-medical purposes. The report also
states that since 2009 two-thirds of all "unintentional overdose
deaths" in the city were due to opioids such as fentanyl and oxycodone
(the active ingredient in the drug Percocet). In 2014, city officials
recorded 36 drug overdose deaths. That number climbed to 48 in 2015.
Statistics for 2016 are not yet available.

O'Leary said he hopes any action taken as the result of the pleas of
families such as his will be aimed at preventing other teenagers from
suffering the same fate as Kotval.

The popular teen's funeral was held at the Garden Chapel of Tubman
Funeral Homes on Richmond Road in Nepean.

The funeral home added overflow seating in neighbouring rooms as
hundreds of Kotval's friends, family members and schoolmates filled
into the building to standing room only.

Hundreds of balloons - bright green and purple (Chloe's favourite
colours) - floated in the funeral home's rooms, each with a photo of
Kotval attached to its ribbon.
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