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    November 2019

    Free fentanyl test strips to be available in Saskatoon next month

    Mayfair Drugs will be the first Saskatoon pharmacy to provide free fentanyl test strips through a partnership with U of S medical and pharmacy students who formed a group named Minimizing the Opioid Crisis (MOC).


    A group of University of Saskatchewan students have partnered with a local pharmacy to make free fentanyl test strips available to the public starting Nov. 4.

    Members of the group, Minimizing the Opioid Crisis (MOC), said Mayfair Drugs will be the first location to receive the kits. MOC comprises two medical students and four pharmacy students and was first launched in the spring of 2018. Reports about a string of overdoses connected to fentanyl-laced cocaine last November led the group to focus on providing test strips that could detect the presence of fentanyl or fentanyl analogs.

    Fentanyl test strips, which are used to detect the presence of fentanyl in other drugs, will be available at Mayfair Pharmacy. The project to bring the free test strips to Saskatoon was spearheaded by University of Saskatchewan student group Minimizing the Opioid Crisis (MOC). Pictured here are (L to R) Mayfair Drugs owner Dave Morari, students Shahzaib Fida, Hunter Sakundiak, Filip Davidovic, Baljit Pandher, Shayan Shirazi, and Amaghan Wasim. Photo taken in Saskatoon, SK on Tuesday, October 29, 2019. MATT SMITH / SASKATOON STARPHOENIX

    Mayfair Drugs owner Dave Morari said the students approached him with the “unique opportunity.” At the time they first approached him, the students had been working on a project in the pharmacy program and had been tasked with coming up with a service that was needed at a community pharmacy.

    “They picked Mayfair Drugs because we are more of an addiction pharmacy. We have a more at-risk clientele. It was a perfect fit for their project, and I really liked their idea and I wanted to see where this would go because it fits so well with what we do here,” Morari said.

    Mayfair Drugs owner Dave Morari has been working with Minimizing the Opioid Crisis to provide fentanyl test strips, which are used to detect the presence of fentanyl in other drugs. Photo taken in Saskatoon, SK on Tuesday, October 29, 2019. MATT SMITH / SASKATOON STARPHOENIX

    Armaghan Wasim, a first-year medical student, said MOC reached out to the owner of Mayfair Drugs during the planning stages of the project in part because of the rapport they had noticed between the pharmacist and the community.

    The pharmacy already provides methadone and naloxone kits to the public, noted Shayan Shirazi, also a first-year medical student. Mayfair Drugs can also refer people to addiction help centres, Shirazi added.

    “It’s kind of a one-stop shop. We think that’s really good for patients. They don’t have to go around.”

    Each test strip kit costs Mayfair Drugs $5. At launch, 100 will be available, and MOC will gauge demand from there.

    “We’re hoping this would last, if the community wants it, indefinitely,” Shirazi said of the project, adding the group also wants to make sure the project is sustainable and funding is there to provide the strips to patients, ideally at no cost to them.

    Shahzaib Fida, Baljit Pandher, Shayan Shirazi, Filip Davidovic, Armaghan Wasim, and Hunter Sakundiak form the group Minimizing the Opioid Crisis. They been working to bring free fentanyl test strips to local pharmacies. The test strips would help someone detect fentanyl in other drugs they’re using. Photo taken in Saskatoon, SK on Tuesday, October 15, 2019. MATT SMITH / SASKATOON STARPHOENIX

    Health Canada cautions that fentanyl test strip kits have their limitations, since they’re not specifically designed to check street drugs for fentanyl and they may not be able to detect fentanyl-like substances, such as carfentanil. In a statement on its website, the agency said the most accurate way to test drugs is to go to a supervised consumption site that offers these services.

    Jason Mercredi, executive director of AIDS Saskatoon, which is leading a project to open the province’s first safe consumption site, said in an email on Tuesday that the site’s end goal will be to have a mass spectrometer for testing, plus another for testing drugs at music festivals. The devices cost about $125,000 each; AIDS Saskatoon plans to raise funds to pay for them.

    The organization is in the preliminary stages of making plans to offer testing strips at the safe consumption site, which is set to open in early 2020.

    A Saskatchewan Health Authority spokesperson said in an email that the SHA does not currently distribute test strips to determine fentanyl’s presence in street drugs.


    Retrieved From: https://thestarphoenix.com/news/local-news/free-fentanyl-test-strips-to-be-available-in-saskatoon-next-month

    Publish Date: October 30th, 2019

    • Posted By: Thia James - Saskatoon Star Phoenix
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    • Comments: 0
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