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BC Coroners Service review urges safer drug supply

The BC Coroner Service’s review panel is calling for a safer drug supply and an evidence-based system of care after reviewing the 6,007 drug deaths between Aug. 1, 2017 and July 31, 2021.

Provincial officials said drug toxicity is the leading cause of unnatural death in B.C.

It accounted for more deaths than homicides, suicides, motor vehicle incidents, drownings and fire-related deaths combined.

“This report includes realistic, actionable recommendations that the panel believes will reduce the number of people dying due to toxic, illicit drugs in our province,” said Michael Egilson, death review panel chair in a release.

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“We recognize that many of the timelines in the report are aggressive, but COVID-19 has demonstrated how swiftly policy-makers can act when lives are at stake – and we know that every month of inaction equates to hundreds more lives lost.”

The panel’s advice included three recommendations:

1. Ensure a safer drug supply to those at risk of dying from the toxic illicit drug supply

2. Develop a 30/60/90-day Illicit Drug Toxicity Action Plan with ongoing monitoring

3. Establish an evidence-based continuum of care

The review also noted that more drug deaths are occurring among younger adults and Indigenous Peoples and those with mental health disorders are disproportionately represented in fatalities.

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