The BC Coroners Service has confirmed the presence of fentanyl in a North Vancouver couple whose deaths were reported to the BC Coroners Service on July 20, 2015.
Hardy Robert Leighton, aged 31, and his wife Amelia, aged 30, were found deceased in their North Vancouver home on July 20. Observations at the scene suggested the possible use of illicit drugs.
Expedited toxicology testing confirmed that both Mr. and Ms. Leighton had ingested toxic levels of fentanyl in combination with other drugs.
The BC Coroners Service continues to investigate these deaths.
However, these deaths serve to reinforce the warnings previously issued by the BC Coroners Service, police forces and health authorities about the danger of fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid which is much more toxic than morphine and is particularly dangerous to those who are naïve opioid users. In some cases users have unwittingly ingested fentanyl believing they had been sold other illicit drugs such as oxycodone.
Over the past three years the percentage of drug overdose deaths in which fentanyl is detected has risen to more than 25%. In more than 80% of those cases, the cause of death was a mixed drug overdose, with fentanyl being just one of the components.
The total number of illicit drugs deaths in B.C. for 2014 was 355, an increase of 7.5% from the previous year.