Latest Alert

New Drug Identified In Toronto Drug Supply And High Number Of Overdose Events Across Ontario

Date/Time/Approximate Location

February 9th, 2024
Ontario

Event Description

Toronto’s Drug Checking Service has identified a new substance in the Toronto’s unregulated drug supply (medetomidine/dexmedetomidine):

  • Medetomidine/dexmedetomidine are anesthetic drugs and are more potent than xylazine (longer acting and greater sedation). They were found in samples thought to be fentanyl and, in some cases, xylazine and benzodiazepine.
  • Exposure may be associated with a loss of consciousness, cardiac and circulatory system depression, and respiratory depression.
  • Medetomidine/dexmedetomidine are not opioids and will not respond to naloxone; however, naloxone will take effect on any opioids that may be present alongside medetomidine/dexmedetomidine in the sample. 

There have been a high number of overdoses across Ontario. Belleville, Ontario has declared a state of emergency due to a rapid spike in drug toxicity events in their area:

  • From Tuesday, February 6th to Thursday, February 8th, 2024, there were 23 suspected drug overdoses in Belleville, Ontario. No deaths have been reported.
  • The substance(s) involved have not yet been identified. Medetomidine/dexmedetomidine may or may not be associated with the events. Individuals have presented with decreased levels of consciousness, with some required respiratory support and some showing partial response to naloxone administration.
  • Six other communities have issued drug poisoning alerts in February including:
    • Hamilton
    • Guelph Wellington
    • Grey Bruce
    • Thunder Bay
    • Kingston
    • Lambton

Suggested Actions

Please share the Alert amongst your networks.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS USING DRUGS, HERE ARE A FEW IMPORTANT SAFETY TIPS:

  • Never use alone.
  • Try a very small amount first – “Start low and go slow.”
  • If you use with a friend, do not use at the exact same time.
  • Avoid mixing substances.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately if something doesn’t feel right.
  • Have naloxone ready. Know how to respond to and prevent an opioid overdose.

 

You can also visit the WECOSS Data Dashboard for additional statistics on opioid and other substance use in Windsor-Essex County.