May 23, 2019 3:31 pm

London police confirm carfentanil among drugs seized during spike in overdose deaths

London police Chief John Pare (left) and medical officer of health for London and Middlesex County Dr. Chris Mackie (right) address the recent wave of suspected overdose deaths in London on April 5, 2019.

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London police are confirming the presence of carfentanil in the city, coinciding with a spike in suspected overdose deaths.

Drugs containing carfentanil were found during 10 seizures between March 20 and April 8, according to police.

Five people died of suspected overdoses in a six-day span between March 30 and April 5.

READ MORE: Drug overdoses claim 5 lives in 6 days: London police


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Police say carfentanil is normally used by veterinarians as a tranquillizer for very large animals and is 100 times more toxic than fentanyl and 10,000 times more toxic than morphine.

“While we can’t say for certain that carfentanil is the cause of these deaths, we need to make sure that those who use substances are aware this is on our streets and that they take the needed precautions,” said police Chief John Pare.

“If you know someone who could be exposed, please make sure they have a naloxone kit and that they know the signs of an overdose.”

READ MORE: ‘No predictability’ — Staff at London’s overdose prevention explain opioid trends

The determination came from a Health Canada analysis of the drugs, and in a statement, Dr. Chris Mackie, London’s medical officer of health, called it a chilling confirmation that London has entered a new phase in the local opioid crisis.

“Now more than ever, people who use these substances need to know that more dangerous and potent poisons are on our streets. When they use, it’s critical that they’re not alone and that naloxone is close by. ”

Officials are also warning that while users may have developed a tolerance for fentanyl, they may unknowingly be taking carfentanil.

READ MORE: London man puts a face to overdose deaths, says his brother ‘fell through the cracks’

Naloxone kits are available for free at the Middlesex-London Health Unit or local pharmacies.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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