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Canada B.C. research project to provide drug users with take-home testing kits

A man smokes fentanyl in the smoking section at the Overdose Prevention Site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside on May 15, 2019.

Rafal Gerszak

Vancouver Coastal Health and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control are collaborating on a research project that will provide people who use substances with take-home drug checking kits to determine if they can use them safely on their own.

The take-home kits are available at select overdose-prevention and supervised-consumption sites in Vancouver.

Clients will receive five free test strips with instructions so they can check whether their substances possibly contain fentanyl.

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Fentanyl was responsible for about 87 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. last year.

The study will compare results of take-home drug checking with services already being offered at Coastal Health sites using trained technicians.

Researchers will evaluate the fentanyl positivity rates from the take-home checks compared with rates that technicians get during the same time frame.

It will also help determine whether take-home drug checking kits can be effectively used outside of a health care facility without staff oversight.

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