Sask. government increases access to tests that can detect fentanyl in street drugs
Fentanyl and benzodiazepine drug checking strips are now available at more than 30 locations across Saskatchewan for the purpose of at home drug checking.
The increase in availability comes after the province began offering the strips in Regina and Saskatoon earlier this year.
"This is a major step to help reduce the risk of overdoses throughout Saskatchewan," Prairie Harm Reduction executive director Jason Mercredi said in a news release.
With the expansion, the testing strips will be available in many northern communities including Buffalo Narrows, La Loche and La Ronge.
"Prairie Harm Reduction is pleased to be a partner with the Government of Saskatchewan to ensure this harm reduction tool is widely available to everyone in Saskatchewan, both urban and rural."
Fentanyl, which cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, is 50 to 100 times more toxic than other opioids.
Of 149 confirmed accidental overdose deaths in Saskatchewan in 2021, 108 involved fentanyl, according to the province.
Mixing benzodiazepines (benzos) with opioids increases the risk of overdose, because they both have sedative properties.
Naloxone, which normally reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, is not effective in counteracting benzos, the province says.
A negative result on a test strip does not guarantee the substance is safe. Test strips only check if certain fentanyl or benzos compounds are present in the portion of the drugs tested.
They do not detect other drugs and do not show the amount of fentanyl or benzos present in the substance.
"We are grateful anytime we see the adoption of evidence based harm reduction measures on a large scale," provincial lead of Mom's Stop the Harm Canada Marie Agioritis said in the release.
"It gives me hope that someone else's mother could be spared the pain of burying a child. These test strips will save lives. Let's get them into the hands of people who need them."