N.B. government warns of street drug linked to 9 sudden deaths

Click to play video: 'Global News Morning New Brunswick: December 9'
Global News Morning New Brunswick: December 9
The online edition of Global News Morning with Paul Brothers and Eilish Bonang on Global New Brunswick – Dec 9, 2022

New Brunswick’s provincial government is warning the public of the “deadly” drug bromazolam after it was detected in the blood samples of nine people who suddenly died.

Bromazolam is a derivative of benzodiazepine, and is not approved for medical use in any country.

“These are the first indications that the drug is being used in New Brunswick,” read the Friday release, adding the nine deaths took place between July and November.

According to the province, fentanyl was also detected in some cases.

Acting chief medical officer of health Dr. Yves Léger said in the release the emergence of bromazolam is a “major concern” for the province.

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“What is especially concerning is that people do not know it is contained in their street drugs,” he said. “There are no warning signs of bromazolam’s presence, as it cannot be detected by sight, smell or taste. There are no telltale signs.”

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Health Canada says mixing benzodiazepines (benzos) with other depressants such as alcohol or opioids — also known as benzo-dope — increases the risk of overdose.

Naloxone is not effective in counteracting the effects of benzos.

New Brunswick Public Health said Friday it is contacting frontline organizations that work with people using street drugs about how they can lower their risk of overdose.

It warns residents that bromazolam is in the province, and advises users to avoid benzo-dope.

“Take advantage of an overdose prevention site if one is available in your community,” read the release. “Have naloxone on hand; it will not help with bromazolam but could help with opioids such as fentanyl.”

The province also advises users to not use drugs alone, and do testers to check drug strength.

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