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Category "Van Live"

14May

B.C. research study evaluates safety of take-home drug checking kits

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A fentanyl check in progress. One red line on top is a positive result for the presence of fentanyl or one of its analogs. Two red lines is a negative result.


Handout

Vancouver Coastal Health and B.C. Centre for Disease Control are collaborating on a pilot project that will provide substance users with take-home drug checking kits to determine if people can safely use them on their own.

Clients will receive five free test strips, with instructions, to take home so they can determine whether their drugs contain fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid being cut into the illicit drug supply.

“We know that most people dying from overdoses die while using alone,” said Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health. .“We’re hoping that giving people the opportunity to check their drugs for fentanyl on their own could help them make safer choices and save lives.”

The VCH says fentanyl was responsible for approximately 87 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. last year.

A record 1,489 British Columbians died of suspected drug overdoses in 2018.

Currently substance users voluntarily check their drugs at overdose prevention sites, supervised consumption sites and other community health sites an average of 500 times each month. But since many fatal illicit drug overdoses occur in private residences, and when the user is alone, health authorities believe take-home drug checking kits could help more people.

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy announces the opening of a new Overdose Emergency Response Centre at a news conference at Vancouver General Hospital on Dec. 1, 2017.


B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy.

DARRYL DYCK /

THE CANADIAN PRESS

“We know using drugs alone presents a significant risk amidst a toxic, unpredictable and illegal drug supply that is taking three to four lives every single day,” said Judy Darcy, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions. “Drug checking is an important tool in our toolbox and through this research project we can learn more about how to keep people safer and help them find a pathway to hope.”

The test strips were originally developed to check urine for the presence of fentanyl but in July 2016 in light of the overdose crisis, VCH pioneered the use of the strips to check the drugs themselves for fentanyl. A small amount of a drug is mixed with a few drops of water, the test strip is inserted into the solution, and a positive or negative for fentanyl is revealed within seconds.

The research study will evaluate the fentanyl positivity rates from the take-home checks compared with rates that trained technicians get at VCH sites during the same time frame. The study will help determine whether take-home drug checking kits can be effectively used outside of a healthcare facility without staff oversight.


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4Jan

BC reduces or eliminates deductibles for many Fair Pharmacare clients

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Health Minister Adrian Dix announced that as of Jan. 1, B.C. households earning up to $30,000 in net income annually no longer have to pay a Fair PharmaCare deductible.


Nick Procaylo / PNG

B.C. has eliminated Fair Pharmacare deductibles for families earning less than $30,000 and reduced deductibles for families earning between $30,000 and $45,000.

Low-income seniors and individuals will see co-payments eliminated, meaning their prescriptions will be fully covered by the plan, if they qualify, said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Before the new rules kicked in Jan. 1, families that qualified for Fair Pharmacare would have to pay some of their prescription costs out of pocket before receiving coverage.

A family with an annual income of just $11,250 would have paid $200 before Pharmacare would begin to pay. Households with a net annual income between $15,000 and $30,000 were paying $300 to $600 out-of-pocket before coverage assistance began.

Ministry data show that people in income bands affected by the deductibles were skipping their prescriptions, possibly to pay for other living expenses, said Dix.

“No one should have to make the difficult decision between their family’s health and putting food on the table,” said Dix. “We know that for many working households, needed prescriptions were going unfilled too often because Fair PharmaCare deductibles were too high.”

A 2014 study by the Institute for Research on Public Policy found that seniors were particularly poorly served by income-based pharmacare coverage. B.C. switched from age-based coverage in 2003 to contain rising program costs.

Faced with paying the full price of prescriptions until the minimum threshold of $1,000, B.C. seniors have been less likely to fill prescriptions, said lead author Steve Morgan, director of the Centre for Heath Services and Policy Research at the University of B.C.

Several Canadian studies have found that British Columbians were twice as likely to report skipping medications for financial reasons (7.1 per cent, according to one study) compared seniors in Ontario, where their drug costs are minimal.

When people skip medications for chronic conditions, the costs tend to turn up in other parts of the health care system, such as more frequent hospitalization.

Fair Pharmacare serves about 240,000 families in B.C., including people in long-term residential care and income assistance clients. The average drug expenditure per patient is about $1,600 a year.

The provincial government has budgeted $105 million to pay for coverage improvements.

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20Nov

Vancouver police arrest man in connection with West End assault

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Vancouver police have arrested a 34-year-old man in connection with the alleged assault of a woman in a West End apartment building on Saturday.

Just before 3 a.m., a woman reported being attacked after she was followed by an unknown man into her building on Bute Street near Pendrell Street.

Investigators said the attack was sexually motivated.

Police released security camera images of “a person of interest” on Saturday afternoon. By Sunday, they had a man in custody.

“Tips from the public were crucial in helping to identify the suspect,” VPD Sgt. Jason Doucette said in a release.


A person of interest in an assault in the West End on Nov. 17 was photographed by a security camera.

Vancouver Police Department /

PNG

The man’s name has not been released.

Doucette says the VPD are anticipating he will be charged with sexual assault and robbery.


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