Sask. Coroner asking for vigilance after four drug suspected deaths in Regina since February 14th

With four suspected drug related deaths in Regina since February 14, the Saskatchewan Coroners Service is asking the public to increase its awareness of the dangers of illicit street drugs.

Preliminary toxicology in these deaths indicates high levels of Xylazine in combination with fentanyl, acetyl fentanyl and methamphetamine.

“This is a fatal combination” Chief Coroner Clive Weighill said on Thursday. “Anyone who uses street drugs like these is at a much higher risk of overdose, especially when they are combining drugs like these together.”

Xylazine is typically used by veterinarians to sedate large animals. Its effects include central nervous system depression, blurred vision, disorientation, dizziness and drowsiness. When Xylazine and opioids are combined risks include respiratory depression causing slowed breathing and dangerously lowered blood pressure and heart rate.

Weighill said this drug has been seen in places like Toronto and British Columbia in the past, but this is a first for Saskatchewan.

“This is the first time we have seen this drug in our toxicology studies. It’s alarming that we are seeing this now because it has never been seen in Saskatchewan and so far it has only been seen in Regina.”

He believes this will not be an isolated incident and worries there could be more overdoses caused by this deadly combination in other parts of the province if people aren’t vigilant moving forward.

In an overdose situation, naloxone would not be effective against Xylazine, which is not an opioid, but it may reverse the effects of opioid(s) that are present along with Xylazine.

Since the start of 2021 Regina Police Chief Evan Bray said there’s been 29 overdoses they’ve been called to, that’s on top of countless more that police are not called to.

According to the latest coroners update regarding confirmed and suspected drug toxicity deaths this year, there were 65 suspected and 10 confirmed drug-related deaths from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28. 2020 saw 233 confirmed deaths and 112 suspected deaths.

(With files from Moises Canales)


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