Ottawa

Kingston, Ont., overdoses may be linked to fentanyl, health officials say

Health officials and police are warning that counterfeit prescription medications and some illicit drugs in the Kingston, Ont., area are believed to be contaminated with fentanyl.

Counterfeit pills can be manufactured to look identical to prescription drugs

Fentanyl pills are shown in an undated police handout photo. (Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams/The Canadian Press)

Health officials and police are warning that counterfeit prescription medications and some illicit drugs in the Kingston, Ont., area are believed to be contaminated with fentanyl.

Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health says the deadly opioid may have been involved in recent life-threatening overdoses in the region.

Laboratory testing is being conducted to determine the contents of the drugs.

Officials say counterfeit pills can be manufactured to look almost identical to prescription opioids such as OxyContin, Percocet and other medications.

Police say fentanyl, which is up to 100 times more potent than morphine and 20 times more toxic than heroin, has been linked to nearly 580 deaths in Ontario in the past five years.

Dr. Kieran Moore, the region's associate medical officer of health, said getting drugs from a friend, online or a drug dealer is risky and potentially life-threatening because of the risk of fentanyl contamination.

"There is no way to know what is in them or how toxic they may be," Moore said in a news release.

"The presence of illicit fentanyl significantly increases the risk of overdose," he said, noting "it is fatal in very small amounts."

now