A release from the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) details a recent increase in opioid overdoses at the temporary overdose prevention site on King Street, adding that it could mark the arrival of a new and highly toxic form of opioids in the London region.
The news comes on the heels of a community warning issued last week from the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection that reported 13 opioid overdoses had taken place at the site between Aug. 1 and Aug. 23.
As of Friday afternoon, the MLHU say that number has jumped to 23, with six overdoses taking place last week. In all cases with one exception, the substance used was fentanyl.
“In all of those cases, the overdoses were reversed successfully because of the intervention of staff members using oxygen and naloxone,” said Dr. Alex Summers, the associate medical of officer of health for the MLHU.
The double-digit number is nearly three times the eight overdoses reported between the site’s opening in February and July 31.
“We’ve also been observing through our surveillance data the near doubling in the weekly average number of opioid overdose poisonings at our emergency departments,” added Summers.
“All of this together is leading us to think that there may be a new and highly toxic form of opioid in our region.”
Despite the high numbers, Summers says the fact that not a single death resulted from the overdoses is a “real success story” for the temporary overdose prevention site.
“The overdoses haven’t resulted in people dying because they’ve been in safe places or they’ve had opportunities for oxygen and naloxone to be distributed.
The news comes amid International Overdose Awareness Day.
Held annually on Aug. 31, the day aims to increase awareness about overdoses, reduce stigma and remember lives lost due to drug use.
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