Pubdate: Sun, 09 Apr 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: David Rider
Page: A4


Four others in serious condition after ecstasy use at two city dance

Five overdoses near Toronto nightclubs early Saturday, including one
that killed a 24-year-old woman, triggered a health warning and calls
for clubs and authorities to take new steps to save lives.

Police say the overdoses involved the party drug MDMA, also known as
ecstasy. Tests should reveal if the woman also ingested fentanyl, a
toxic anesthetic sometimes mixed into other drugs, or another substance.

The overdoses near Uniun Nightclub, near Adelaide and Portland Sts.,
and Rebel Nightclub at Polson Pier are part of an alarming trend, said
Councillor Joe Cressy, who chairs the city's drugstrategy.

"With the arrival of fentanyl, a broader swath of Torontonians are now
at risk of a fatal overdose," he said in an interview.

"This crisis is at the stage where people doing recreational drugs
like MDMA or a line (of cocaine) are at real risk of death."

The 24-year-old woman died in the hospital after collapsing and being
found in cardiac arrest near Uniun at about 12:30 a.m. Another woman
who later collapsed nearby was hospitalized in serious condition. Two
men and a woman were also hospitalized in serious condition after
paramedics found them at about 1:30 a.m. a short distance from Rebel.

Although some regard ecstasy as a safe drug, the Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health warns of "a growing number of deaths," often related
to dehydration and overheating.

Six overdoses were reported at Rebel in December, including a young
woman who died.

A Toronto widow, Jody McLennan, recently went public about the
February death of her 25-year-old husband, Oghenovo Avwunufe, who had
snorted a small amount of fentanyllaced cocaine at home with friends.

Front-line city staff at agencies including the TTC are being trained
on the use of the opioid antidote naloxone, said Cressy, who has
helped groups of bar staff get training on naloxone kits that are free
upon request at most pharmacies.

The city's harm-reduction plan calls for quick testing of drugs at
three planned safe-injection sites so users can ensure they are not
laced with something else.

And Toronto Public Health is working with a community project that
aims to bring such testing into nightclubs, said Cressy.

Ink Entertainment, which operates both Uniun and Rebel, said in a
statement Saturday that the company is "shocked and saddened" by the
woman's death, and the clubs are cooperating with police.

- -- With files from Brennan Doherty and Vjosa Isai
- ---
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