1 death, several overdoses linked to suspected consumption of counterfeit pills

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Father speaks out after 15-year-old son dies from overdose
RELATED: A memorial service was held Friday for a 15-year-old Montrealer who died of a drug overdose. The teen’s family is devastated and hoping to raise awareness. As Global’s Elizabeth Zogalis reports, Mathis Boivin died in his sleep after taking an opioid that was stronger than fentanyl – Jan 5, 2024

Public health authorities are sounding the alarm over “counterfeit pills” that are in wide circulation in the Montreal area.

In a news release Friday, the DRSP of Montreal said one death and several overdoses were linked to the “presumed consumption of hydromorphone” opioid pills, known under the brand name Dilaudid.

Pills currently in circulation were described as being white and triangular in shape with rounded corners that “look like 8 mg hydromorphone tablets (Dilaudid).”

According to the Mayo Clinic, hydromorphone belongs to the group of medicines called narcotic analgesics and is used to “relieve pain severe enough to require opioid treatment.”

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Montreal officials say some samples with “DD 8” printed on the pills were analyzed and found to contain protonitazepyne, while tablets with “PP 8” printed on them were found to contain N-desethyl isotonitazene. Both components are nitazenes or synthetic opioids that authorities say are 25 times stronger than fentanyl.

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The health authority warned it’s easy to mistake counterfeit pills for pharmaceutical tablets because they often look the same.

“All pills bought on the black market can contain a substance (or mixture) other than what is expected,” the department said. “Risks of overdose are high for people who unknowingly take nitazene opioids.”

Public health says naloxone — a medication used to reverse an overdose — should be administered if a person has trouble breathing, makes a snoring or gurgling sound or isn’t breathing at all.

Naloxone should also be used if a person has no response to sound or pain.

Bluish lips and fingernails, and pinpoint pupils are symptoms associated with possible cardiopulmonary arrest. Anyone witnessing an overdose should call 911 immediately.


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