B.C. has protocols to give 'safer supply' fentanyl to minors without parental consent

Last August, the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) published protocols for prescribing 'safe' fentanyl tablets to minors. The province since contracted them 'to further support clinicians.' Fatal overdoses are the leading cause of death for residents under 59.

B.C. has protocols to give 'safer supply' fentanyl to minors without parental consent
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British Columbia has fallen off the deep end after the province authorized a "safer supply" of fentanyl to youth without parental consent.

Last August, the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) published protocols for medical professionals to prescribe "safe" fentanyl tablets to minors. 

In an emailed statement to the National Post, the organization confirmed the province contracted them "to further support clinicians prescribing safer supply across the province." B.C. has since ramped up their distribution of "safe" fentanyl with almost no public scrutiny, according to a report by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI).

The author, Adam Zivo, writes the protocols are "full of red flags" and lack sufficient safeguarding measures and justification for distributing fentanyl to minors. There is no minimum age for youth accessing fentanyl nor mention of parental involvement in the documents, he said. 

"To date, there is no evidence available supporting this intervention, safety data, or established best practices for when and how to provide it," read the protocols.

The only safeguard measure is a "two prescriber approval system," where two medical professionals cleared to prescribe medication are involved with each patient request.

Although Health Canada did not develop the protocols, they provided no comment when asked if the federal government objected to giving fentanyl to minors.

One teenage user recently came forward to document her harrowing recovery from fentanyl and its analogues. At 13, Madison frequently used hydromorphone and her addiction eventually progressed to fentanyl soon after, reported The Bureau.

Addiction experts attributed hydromorphone, the drug distributed by 'safer supply' in place of fentanyl, as not sufficiently potent to get fentanyl users high. They widely claim users still purchase 'hard drugs' on the black market.

"By reframing the provision of unlimited recreational fentanyl as medical care," said Zivo, "the provincial government may inadvertently turn itself into a parent’s worst nightmare — an unstoppable drug dealer with endless supply and unrestricted access to their child."

On several occasions, Madison nearly died. And is warning Canadians that hydromorphone abuse is rampant among teens in Port Coquitlam, where she lives.

Now 15, Madison attributes Canada's "safer supply" and harm-reduction programs to the worsening addiction crisis. In areas with 'safer supply' programs, hydromorphone's street price fell 70% to 95% — resulting in users with lower opioid tolerances abusing the drug, particularly the youth.

Since April 2016, drug overdoses have killed 12,264 people in B.C. and over 32,000 people nationwide. Health Canada blamed fentanyl for the overwhelming majority (76%) of those deaths. 

Fentanyl, or one of its analogues, caused 90% of illicit drug deaths in B.C. last June, according to provincial data. It linked 85% of fatal overdoses in 2022 to the drug.

B.C. became the first province in Canada to implement a "safer supply" program in 2021. The province's then-October submission to Health Canada considered "illicit drug poisoning the leading cause of death amongst British Columbians aged 19 to 39."

Last January 31, the federal agency granted the province a subsection 56(1) exemption for three years under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize people who possessed up to 2.5 grams of heroin, crack, cocaine, fentanyl, MDMA and meth.

However, their "safe supply" drug policy has had minimal impacts despite costing more than $820.1 million, according to a health department report published last August. Researchers said while supervised consumption sites saved some lives "opioid-related deaths have remained higher than pre-pandemic levels."

"People have continued to engage in opioid use behaviour that increases risk of harm," said the report. "Minimal changes since 2017 to rates of high-risk substance use suggest further prevention efforts are required."

Although Health Canada claimed accessible pharmaceutical opioids would reduce fatal overdoses, fatal overdoses are now the leading cause of death for people under 59 in B.C. — exceeding combined deaths from homicides, suicides, accidents and natural diseases.

"The rates of substance use, and related harm continue to rise [during] the Covid-19 pandemic," said the report Horizontal Evaluation Of The Canadian Drugs And Substances Strategy. "Deaths from opioid toxicity reached record levels in 2020 and 2021," it said. 

A total of 4,605 people died from accidental poisonings in 2020; the following year, the number grew to 6,310, according to the B.C. Coroners Service (BCCS). They also recorded 2,272 overdose fatalities in 2022 — up tenfold from 2001.

BCCS reported 184 deaths caused by illicit drugs last June, according to the latest monthly data on the ongoing overdose crisis — over 1,200 last year alone. In a year-over-year comparison, the death toll jumped 17% from June 2022 and 2% higher than in May.

Still, the Commons upheld the "safe supply" policy last May 29 by a 209 to 113 vote, amid calls to "immediately reverse its deadly policies and redirect all funds […] to addiction treatment and recovery programs."

"These so-called experts are typically pie-in-the-sky theorists with no experience," Tory leader Pierre Poilievre told the Commons. "They are members of the 'misery industry,' those paid activists and public health bureaucrats whose jobs depend on the crisis continuing," he added.

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