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Health & Wellness

Fentanyl now most common opioid causing overdose deaths in Ontario

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A new report says Ontario is having as much a problem with opioids as New York State.

The report by the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network - a province-wide network of researchers who provide relevant drug policy research to decision makers - says more than two people are dying of opioid overdoses in Ontario every day. It says the death rate from opioids in the province has almost quadrupled over the last 25 years, soaring to 734 deaths in 2015 from 144 in 1991.

The report says before 2012, oxycodone was the most common culprit in opioid-related deaths. However, a tamper-deterrent form of the drug surfaced that year, causing a decline in deaths linked to oxycodone.

Lead author Tara Gomes, a scientist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, says fentanyl, hydromorphone and even heroin involvement in opioid-related deaths began to rise at that time. Fentanyl's role to opioid-related deaths soared by 548 per cent between 2006 and 2015 and is now the most common cause of lethal overdoses among this class of powerful painkillers. 

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