More than five people die of drug toxicity every day: BC Coroners Service


The BC Coroners Service released updated reports on illicit drug toxicity deaths and drug-related deaths detected by fentanyl as of October 31, 2020, with 162 illicit drug toxicity-related deaths reported in October.

The latest data equates to five people a day losing their lives due to overdoses of illicit drugs.

“This is the fifth month this year with more than 160 suspected illicit drug deaths reported to the BC Coroners Service and more than double the number of people dying as a result of a toxic drug supply in October 2019, ”said Lisa Lapointe, Chief. coroner.

“We continue to see record numbers of people dying in British Columbia due to an unsafe drug supply in our province, and it is wreaking havoc on families and communities in this dual health emergency,” said Lapointe. “The challenges during COVID-19, such as access to key harm reduction services and the supply of toxic drugs, including the extreme concentration of illicit fentanyl, are causing significant and tragic continued loss of life throughout the world. province. Our hearts go out to those who mourn the loss of family, friends and colleagues.

“We encourage clinicians to support those at risk of overdose by prescribing a safe supply and reducing the number of lives lost to toxic substances. We also continue to advocate for an accessible, evidence-based, and accountable treatment and recovery system for anyone with problematic substance use who seeks this medical assistance. “

The number of people who died of illicit drug toxicity in October 2020 (162) represents a 116% increase over the number of deaths in October 2019 (75). British Columbia’s coroners’ service has detected a sustained increase in illicit drug poisoning deaths since March 2020. The province has now recorded eight consecutive months with more than 100 illicit drug poisoning deaths.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating effect on the overdose crisis in British Columbia,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. “The supply of highly toxic drugs that exists in our communities right now is exacerbated. This latest report shows the tragic impact of this crisis on British Columbians, and it is a problem for all of us. Now more than ever, we need to eliminate the stigma of drug use and the shame people feel that prevents them from seeking help or telling their friends and family about it.

Post-mortem toxicology data published in this report again suggests an increase in the number of cases with extreme concentrations of fentanyl (greater than 50 micrograms per liter) from April to October 2020, compared to previous months.

There have been 1,386 illicit drug-related deaths to date in 2020 in British Columbia. The number of deaths in each health authority is equal to or close to the highest monthly total on record. Each of these deaths has a significant impact on loved ones, family members and communities.


Leslie McBain, Co-Founder and CEO, Moms Stop the Harm –

“First, there is the grief that we can’t see in the numbers: 162 lives extinguished, 162 circles of families and friends devastated in a single month by the grief of losing loved ones. What makes drug poisoning deaths even more difficult to account for is that deaths are mostly preventable. We need to take all harm reduction measures, including safe supply. These deaths are a mother’s worst nightmare.

Cheyenne Johnson, Acting Co-Executive Director, BC Center on Substance Use –

“Overdoses and overdose deaths are occurring at an unprecedented rate, and all of our communities are affected by this public health emergency. It is clear what needs to be done to end this ongoing crisis: develop an evidence-based provincial addiction care system that supports prevention, recovery, treatment and harm reduction, and recognizes the need to provide a full range of pharmaceutical alternatives to toxic drug supply. These are the critical and urgent actions needed to end this emergency. “

Learn more:

Illicit drug overdose death report:

Report of deaths detected by fentanyl:

To the Heart:

Stop Overdose BC:

British Columbia Center on Substance Use:

Prescribing guidelines for risk mitigation in the context of dual public health emergencies:

Lifeguard application:

BC Center for Disease Control overdose response indicators:

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