Nova Scotia

Lorazepam allegedly mailed to addict days after his death sparks probe

Two days after 33-year-old Michael Thompson died of a prescription drug overdose, on March 18, a padded envelope arrived in the mail for the Hantsport, N.S. man.

Michael Thompson allegedly got a supply of lorazepam mailed to him ahead of planned rehab stay

Tom Thompson hopes to stop others from suffering as his son did. (CBC)

Two days after 33-year-old Michael Thompson died of a prescription drug overdose, on March 18, a padded envelope arrived in the mail for the Hantsport, N.S., man.

His father, Tom Thompson, opened the envelope and found a small plastic sleeve containing white powder.

"It had a name on it and my wife went on the internet and checked it out," said Thompson. Based on her search, they found the drug was lorazepam.

Michael was hooked on the sedative lorazepam, which was treating his anxiety; he'd also been taking hydromorphone for his chronic back pain after a car accident about 10 years ago. A medical examiner's report found those two drugs, in combination with the powerful narcotic fentanyl, as well as anti-depressant amitriptyline, killed Michael.

Thompson is alarmed that one of the drugs that killed his son possibly arrived in the mail two days after his death.

"If you look it all at once, and if you're on these drugs, your sense of judgment is gone. Maybe they use the whole thing at one time and that's the end," said Thompson.

Thompson said the return label on the package said reChem — which is not a pharmacy, but a supplier of chemicals for research. That name matched two recent charges to a credit card that was being used by his son.

Thompson, worried his son was bypassing pharmacies and going to a company that supplies chemicals for research for his drugs, took the package to the local RCMP detachment. 

RCMP start investigation

RCMP Const. Mark Skinner said the allegations being made by Thompson are alarming.

"That package was delivered a couple of days after the death of Michael Thompson. And as such, RCMP have used that package investigation to open an investigation [under the] Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and potential trafficking of a controlled substance," said Skinner.

Police say a typical investigation would involve a lab analysis of the contents of the package.

None of Thompson's allegations have been proven, but if true, he raises important questions.

"How come this chemical research company, [which is] what it appears to be on the internet, how come they can sell this stuff to Joe Guy off the street?" asked Thompson. "How can you do this without having the paper backup to show that it's going to a research lab or whatever, instead of to just a 33-year-old guy in an apartment in small town Nova Scotia?"

On its website, reChem said it is not a pharmacy, and has a strict policy that its drugs are "not for human consumption."

The company is based in Kitchener, Ont., and was "created by private chemical researchers for chemical researchers."

ReChem said it never stocked lorazepam

ReChem responded to a CBC News request for an interview with an email saying it has never stocked or sold lorazepam.

It also said it's working with agencies to determine how its name was linked to a parcel.

And reChem suggests it may be confused with a similarly named company that's operating outside of Canada.

Last fall, Michael registered the company Moonbeams and Stardust Aromatics with the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock companies. According to the company profile, the nature of his business was the "import, production, wholesale and retail of essential oils and aromatic chemicals." 

Thompson assumed the credit card purchases being made by his son were for items required to get his new venture up and running.

Michael had been waiting for nearly three weeks to enter a detox program, and had an appointment to register on March 20. 

Thompson now believes his son was seeking illegal sources of lorazepam, over his legally prescribed amount, just as he was finally ready to get clean.

"He wouldn't know whether they would give him anything ... that was his biggest fear. Were they going to administer medication and how is he going to survive going through detox," Thompson said.

"And that was probably one of the ways that he thought I'll be able to keep myself calm."


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