Counterfeit drugs containing opioids found in Vancouver: VCH alert

A drug alert has been issued for counterfeit hydromorphone pills in Vancouver.

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is warning the public in a drug alert Wednesday about counterfeit hydromorphone tablets.

VCH says the imitation drugs that were seized have “D/D” and “8” imprints on them, and contain ‘protonitazene’ and ‘metonitazens’ — synthetic opioids that can lead to an overdose.

Naloxone, a life-saving medication that’s effective in reversing an overdose, is useful in these cases, but the health authority warns it may require additional doses.

The alert says that nitazenes are not detected by fentanyl test strips, and can only be detected by spectrometers, a tool that uses infrared light to detect drugs.

Another drug alert was issued by VCH on Tuesday to warn the public about a pink powder being sold in Vancouver as “tuci” or “tusi” and has tested positive for ketamine, MDMA, and benzos.

Pink powder containing ketamine, MDMA, and benzos. (Credit: Vancouver Coastal Health)

The health authority says this is a reminder to people to check their drugs before using.

“Drug checking is a harm reduction service that allows people to determine what is in their substances and potentially take action to reduce the risk of any associated harms,” VCH states.

It adds there are free and anonymous drug-checking services in Vancouver and across the Lower Mainland.

“You can test your substances in multiple ways, either through on-site or take-home fentanyl test strips or by visiting a technician using an FTIR Spectrometer,” the health authority states. “You can access drug-checking services at all overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites and through Get Your Drugs Tested in Vancouver or by mail.”

Last year the BC Coroner Service recorded 2,511 drug poisoning deaths, which was the most ever reported in a year.

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