An Interior Health-wide alert has been issued over counterfeit drugs comparable to fentanyl.
The drugs, being sold as 8mg Dilaudid tablets, also known as Hydromorphone, have been found to contain Isotonitazene.
Isotonitazene is a synthetic opioid that works on receptors in the body similar to fentanyl.
As a result, the counterfeit drugs can be 20 or more times as potent as the actual drugs, and thus carry a very high risk of overdose.
The drug has been known to cause fatalities according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The only way to be certain a tablet is genuine on purchase is if it is received directly from a pharmacist, said Interior Health.
Otherwise, it is recommended to have the drugs checked before using.
To reduce the risk of overdose, Interior Health has made several suggestions:
• Get your drugs checked before use, which can be done at ASK Wellness in Penticton, and at other locations listed at www.drugchecking.ca.
• Avoid using different drugs at the same time or using drugs and alcohol together.
• Don’t use alone or ask someone to check on you
• Start with a small amount and work up
• Use at an overdose prevention site
• Know how to respond to overdose
• If you must use while alone, consider using the Lifeguard app which can connect you with 911 emergency responders if you overdose