HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Trial For Overdose Prevention System
Pubdate: Wed, 12 Jul 2017
Source: Metro (Vancouver, CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Wanyee Li
Page: 5


City's health authority to use drug users' info to lower deaths

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is rolling out an alert warning system
that aims to bring drug overdose and contamination information to drug
users faster.

The eight-month pilot program will crowd source information from the
drug users and relay it to their peers via harm reduction service
providers in the community.

Health providers currently post warnings whenever authorities receive
word from police about a particularly dangerous batch of drugs or when
service providers notice a spike in overdoses, but that information
often comes a week or two after the fact, said Dr. Mark Lysyshyn,
medial health officer at VCH.

"These formal systems collect information in very formal ways and it's
to serve their needs as oppose to the needs of the people who might be
able to use that information," he said.

"(Drug users) may have different information to share with us that may
be more relevant in some cases."

People can contribute information anonymously to the Real-time Drug
Alert & Response (RADAR) program online at or by
texting 236-999-3673.

Drug users can report the date of an overdose and what neighbourhood
the substance was purchased in. They can even submit photos of the
pills in question to help their peers identify contaminated drugs, for

"We can quickly get that picture out to people and say be careful of
pills that look like this," explained Lysyshyn.

The new alert program is one of several incentives Vancouver Coastal
Health is spearheading in an effort to address the overdose crisis in
B.C. that has killed 640 people in the province so far in 2017.

The health authority plans to expand its fentanyl-testing strip
program from Insite to five overdose-prevention sites, said Lysyshyn.

"We hope that will increase access to the strips and we want to start
looking at other drug checking technologies as well."

Over 1,000 tests have been conducted at Insite since VCH launched the
program one year ago, he said. Staff found that people are more likely
to use reduce their dosage when the test comes back positive, reducing
the chance of overdose.

The strip, in its current form, only detects the presence of fentanyl.
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