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Fentanyl: A Public Health Crisis

You may have heard about BC’s public health emergency over the surge in fentanyl use and abuse over the past few months. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid (“narcotic”) medication estimated to be 50-100 times more potent than morphine, has also recently gained notoriety as the drug that caused Prince’s fatal overdose earlier this year. Now, the drug is becoming a grave health concern as it grows in popularity across Canada. Although fentanyl has legitimate use as an anesthetic or pain medication and is available with a prescription, its narcotic properties and relatively low cost have also made it a popular street drug. As its popularity has grown, it has caused a slew of fatal and near-fatal overdoses nationwide.

In BC alone, fentanyl played a role in the death of around 200 people between January and April this year (CBC News, 2016), and numbers across Canada have also been inching upwards. Some side effects of taking even small doses of fentanyl include drowsiness, confusion, nausea, and trouble breathing, and can lead to coma or death.

The health emergency has caused concerns for workplace safety across the country. SureHire is taking steps to address this health concern by adding fentanyl testing to its repertoire of drug and alcohol services. Please click here for more information on this concern and how you can anticipate and respond to workplace health and safety concerns.


BBC News. (2016, June 3). Prince death: Singer died of fentanyl painkiller overdose. BBC News. Retrieved from

Eagland, N. (2016, May 31). ‘It feels like murder’: The devastating impact of fentanyl in B.C. The Province. Retrieved from

CBC News. (2016, April 21). B.C. declares public health emergency after 200 overdose deaths in 2016. CBC News. Retrieved from