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Death review panel urging safer drug supply

The BC Coroners Service’s latest death review panel is pleading with the province to pursue additional measures as drug deaths continue.

The main plea is for the B.C. government to expand access to safer supply initiatives by allowing access for people at risk of significant injury or death without a prescription.

Currently, individuals with an opioid-use disorder can get prescriptions for safe supply alternatives.

However, the panel noted that fewer than 5,000 people per month receive safer supply prescriptions while as many as 225,000 British Columbians use unregulated substances.

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Making it so a prescription isn’t necessary would require an application to the federal minister of Health and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions for a class exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act.

However, B.C’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jennifer Whiteside has sent a letter to the coroner saying non-prescription models for the delivery of pharmaceutical alternatives are not under consideration and the province can’t accept the recommendation.

The full death review panel report can be viewed below and details the work done in past reports and shows all recommendations being made to the province.

MORE: BC Coroners Service Death Review Panel (B.C. government)

The government has also released the September drug death findings.

The report shows that 175 people died due to drugs in September, an average of approximately 5.8 deaths per day.

That was a 10 per cent decrease from the same time last year, as well as a small decrease from August’s deaths.

Over 13,000 British Columbians have died since the public health emergency was first declared in 2016.

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