Coastal health authority provides take-home drug-check kits

Take-home drug tests

Take-home drug checking strips will soon be available at designated sites throughout the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

The decision to offer the take-home testing kits was made after results from a new study showed that take-home drug checking is as accurate as drug checking at a health care facility in identifying opioids contaminated with fentanyl, which is responsible for killing thousands of people in B.C. in recent years.

“We’ve been offering drug checking at community health centres, overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites, but we know that not everyone can or wants to go to these sites, especially in light of the stigma that people who use drugs can face,” Dr. Mark Lysyshyn.

“We know most people who die from overdoses are using alone. Being able to check their drugs for fentanyl may help them make safer choices and ultimately prevent overdoses.”

In Vancouver, strips will be initially available at Insite, Molson overdose prevention site, Overdose Prevention Society, St. Paul’s Hospital overdose prevention site, and the Three Bridges and Robert and Lilly Lee community health centres.

The health authority will also make the strips available in Powell River, the Sunshine Coast and the Sea to Sky corridor. More communities and locations will be added as the program expands.

VCH, Interior Health and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control conducted the research study between April and July 2019. Participants were provided with free take-home drug checking kits, each containing five fentanyl test strips, instructions and a survey.

The results found 89.95 per cent of opioid samples contained fentanyl, while on-site drug checking found 89.14 per cent of samples contained fentanyl.

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