Al­berta says there have been 228 fen­tanyl deaths to early May this year

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Alberta - SOUTH­ERN AL­BERTA NEWS­PA­PERS The Cana­dian Press

New fig­ures sug­gest that fen­tanyl deaths are con­tin­u­ing to rise in Al­berta this year but at a slower rate.

Health of­fi­cials say there were 228 over­dose deaths from Jan. 1 through to early May, which, if the rate re­mains steady, would mean about 660 by the end of the year.

There were 583 deaths in 2017 and 368 the year be­fore that.

Dr. Karen Grim­srud, co-chair of Al­berta’s opioid re­sponse com­mit­tee, says ini­tia­tives such as faster and im­proved treat­ment re­sponse along with tar­geted law en­force­ment are hav­ing an ef­fect.

But she says it’s too early to say whether the prov­ince is suc­cess­fully beat­ing back the opioid cri­sis.

Grim­srud says num­bers at the mid­point of 2018 will give a more ac­cu­rate pic­ture on the broader trend.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing that the num­bers are con­tin­u­ing to look like they’re plateau­ing,” Grim­srud told a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day.

“At this point we can re­main en­cour­aged, but I don’t want to say out­right that we’ve turned the cor­ner.”

Of the 228 deaths, 66 were from the more deadly opioid car­fen­tanil.

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