RCMP, health officials warn of dangers of Fentanyl after counterfeit drugs found in Edmonton area

Watch above: OxyContin is a highly addictive painkiller, and now an even more potent drug is being sold by dealers on Edmonton area streets. Kendra Slugoski has more on a warning by RCMP and health officials about Fentanyl.

EDMONTON — A drug that RCMP and health officials say is 80 times more potent than morphine is being sold on Edmonton area streets.

Earlier this week, St. Albert RCMP put out a public warning about small, round, blue-green pills being sold as OxyContin. But the pills, which were seized earlier this year, were found to be Fentanyl, after analysis by Health Canada.

“It’s one of the more potent analgesic narcotics,” explained Darrin Berlin, an Edmonton pharmacist. “It’s a very quick-acting one, so you see most of its use is in the hospital.”

Used most often by patients with chronic pain, Fentanyl is usually prescribed in a patch form. Berlin says in hospitals, the drug is also used to help induce sedation.

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“It is a potent enough narcotic that… it’s designed to absorb through the skin really quickly so if you just touch it there is a chance that you could overdose or definitely get the affects from the drug.”

“We know that Fentanyl is very potent and people have died from it,” added Cpl. Laurel Kading with St. Albert RCMP. “We’re concerned because it is a pain killer, it’s potent, people can overdose on it, it can cause symptoms such as sleepiness, hallucinations and even death.”

Counterfeit OxyContin has been linked to the deaths of two young men in Saskatoon last week. Friends say 20-year-old Logan Jamieson and 25-year-old Spencer Smith thought they were buying OxyContin.

“In my group of friends there were people who dabbled with it (OxyContin) but it was never one of the most prevalent drugs,” said Samuel Shindelka.

“Nobody thinks that one little tiny pill is going to be the last thing you ever ingest.”

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READ MORE: Alarm sounded after 2 Saskatoon deaths linked to fake Oxycontin

Fentanyl use has been a growing concern in parts of Ontario; the patch is cut into strips and sold on the streets. Teens have also been known to suck the patch along their gums to deliver a quick and powerful high.

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In Edmonton, the drug is on police radar. Officers say they have made three Fentanyl seizures this year.

“One was in powder and the rest were in pill form,” said Det. Guy Pilon with the EPS Drug and Gang Section.

With such close borders with St. Albert, Pilon says it’s only a matter of time before the drug once again pops up in Edmonton.

“These are touted as a product and have something else in it. So you have no idea as to quality control or the potency of the ingredients that they’re putting in there,” he said.

“It would be remiss to think that only the supplier of those pills would only drop them off in St. Albert. We’re so close I’m sure they’re going to surface in Edmonton at some point in time.”

The counterfeit OxyContin pills seized by St. Albert RCMP had the number 80 stamped on them.

Police say OxyContin is still circulating on Edmonton streets, but cocaine and marijuana are still the top drugs of choice. Pilon says heroin seizures have increased in Edmonton over the past two years.

With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News.

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