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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016 Sep 23;65(37):1015-1016. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6537a6.

Notes from the Field: Furanyl-Fentanyl Overdose Events Caused by Smoking Contaminated Crack Cocaine - British Columbia, Canada, July 15-18, 2016.


On July 15 2016, Surrey Memorial Hospital's emergency department notified the medical health officer on call of a sharp increase in opioid overdose events in Surrey, Fraser Health Authority, in British Columbia, Canada. During July 15-18, the number of persons with suspected opioid overdose evaluated in Surrey Memorial Hospital's emergency department increased approximately 170%, from an average of four suspected cases per day during the period January-June 2016 to 43 (nearly 11 per day) during the 4-day period (Figure). Most patients (22 [51%]) became unconscious after smoking what they believed to be crack cocaine. The majority of overdose events occurred within a small geographic area in Surrey that has a high population of homeless persons and persons who use illicit drugs, including opioids and crack cocaine. Most cases occurred in males (36 cases [84%]); the average age of the patients was 42 years (range = 18-63 years). Forty (93%) patients were brought to the emergency department by ambulance. A total of 37 (86%) patients received injectable naloxone before arriving in the emergency department, including 12 who received it only from community members, 16 who received it only from paramedics, five who received it from both community members and paramedics, one who received it from the fire department and paramedics, and one who received it from the fire department, community, and paramedics; for two patients, the source of naloxone was not known. Reports from first responders, the community, and emergency department staff members indicated that patients required high doses of injectable naloxone, in some cases up to 3.0 mg (usual dose = 0.4 mg). Thirty-five (81%) patients were treated and discharged within a few hours, two patients left without being seen by a health care provider, and six patients were admitted to the hospital; among these, three were transferred to the intensive care unit, one of whom died.

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