Opioids are 'an anticipated crisis' in Montreal; officials meet after string of overdoses

Opioids are 'an anticipated crisis' in Montreal; officials meet after string of overdoses
Opioids are 'an anticipated crisis' in Montreal; officials meet after string of overdoses

Published on: September 5, 2017 | Last Updated: September 5, 2017 5:16 PM EDT

On Tuesday, the Montreal police force announced it arrested seven people while dismantling two drug rings last Friday it believes were specialized in the sale of heroin and fentanyl. THE CANADIAN PRESS

After meeting with police and public health officials, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said Tuesday the city is actively preparing to handle a coming opioid crisis.

“I was reassured about the status of the situation right now, but clearly it’s an anticipated crisis that we have to address and face,” Coderre said during a news conference at city hall Tuesday.

The mayor’s remarks came days after Montreal’s public health department confirmed 12 overdose deaths in the city during the month of August. Another 24 people were saved by the use of naloxone, a medication that can be used to prevent fatal opioid overdoses.

Urine samples collected from drug users and analyzed by the department in August also detected the presence of fentanyl, an opioid considered 40 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl is often linked to the opioid crisis that led to more than 900 overdose deaths in British Columbia last year.

On Tuesday, Coderre and Dr. Richard Massé, director of public health for Montreal, said the 12 overdoses in August were “probably” fentanyl-related. 

In most cases this August, the health department said, the drug users who provided urine samples were unaware they had consumed fentanyl. In every case, the person had reported having consumed heroin. In some cases, they had consumed cocaine. 

Coderre said the city is considering launching a pilot project that would see its police officers and firemen equipped with naloxone kits in certain areas of the city. He named the Mercier-Hochelaga—Maisonneuve and Ville-Marie boroughs as examples. 

“We’re not in reaction mode, everyone has been working on this for several months already,” Coderre said.

On Tuesday, the Montreal police force announced it arrested seven people while dismantling two drug rings last Friday it believes were specialized in the sale of heroin and fentanyl. The seven suspects were arraigned over the weekend on drug trafficking charges.

This story will be updated. 

jfeith@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/jessefeith

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