Other opioids killing more people than fentanyl in Edmonton

Opioids other than fentanyl have killed more people in Edmonton this year, despite the spotlight on the latter.

From January to September, 63 overdose deaths were related to opioids other than fentanyl

At least 241 people have died from opioid-related, accidental drug overdoses in New Brunswick in the past 11 years. (CBC)

Opioids other than fentanyl have killed more people in Edmonton this year than the high-profile street drug.

From January to September, 63 overdose deaths in Edmonton were related to opioids other than fentanyl, while 52 fatal overdoses were related to fentanyl. The numbers come from the province's Opioids and Substances of Misuse Alberta Report.

"I think everyone had been waiting to see numbers on all the opioids, all the comprehensive numbers, and so I'm quite glad that the chief medical examiner's office was able to compile that data," said Elaine Hyshka, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta's School of Public Health.

"I think that goes a long way to understand the issue and to address it."

Hyshka said having the updated numbers of all opioid deaths will help health-care professionals find different ways to prevent deaths.

"We need a comprehensive approach to overdoses in the province that doesn't just focus singularly on one drug. There's a variety of drugs that cause mortality risk and we need to address them all simultaneously."

Another quarterly report will cover the final three months of 2016. It will feature updated statistics related to opioid, fentanyl and narcotic overdoses.

Provincially, fentanyl is still responsible for more deaths than other opioids. Of the 338 overdose deaths in Alberta between January and September,193 were related to fentanyl and 145 were related to another opioid.

The report found that 89 per cent of all fentanyl deaths in Alberta in the first nine months of 2016 occurred in larger urban centres. related to fentanyl, while 145 were from other opioids. 

The latest report also states that 26 per cent of overdose death victims had no fixed address or an unknown home address. People who identified as Indigenous were found to have an emergency visit rate related to opioid and narcotic use five times higher than non-Indigenous people.

In 2015, 205 overdoses deaths in the province were related in to fentanyl.