Is Fentanyl Causing a Public Health Crisis in Alberta?


March 24, 2016 :: Dr. Karin Goodison
Moderated by Vivien Kossuth

Several hundred people have died from fentanyl overdoses in the past few years and critics have charged that more need to be done to curb that trend. Fentanyl, an opioid painkiller prescribed to relieve chronic, intense pain—like that experienced with cancer—is increasingly being used illegally. Both the prescribed and illegally-manufactured form of the drug are being sold, and sometimes mixed with other illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine. 

Fentanyl is killing users, at increasingly high rates. The 272 deaths in Alberta in 2015 represent a significant increase from the previous year, when it was tied to a total of 120 deaths. In 2011, fentanyl was implicated in just six deaths in the province.

Opioid abuse has been rising in general across Canada for some years, due in part to a spike in the prescription of OxyContin and related painkillers. But the increasing availability and use of fentanyl represents a dangerous new direction because of the drug’s potency— fentanyl is up to 100 times more toxic than morphine, heroin, or oxycodone. The speaker will explain how little fentanyl it takes to cause an overdose and discuss the current health response aimed at reducing the impacts of this dangerous drug. 

Speaker: Dr. Karin Goodison
Dr. Karin Goodison is a Medical Officer of Health in South Zone, Alberta Health Services. She trained and worked as a family doctor, prior to going back to medical school to get her specialty training in Public Health and Preventive Medicine. Her interest areas include harm reduction, mental health, Aboriginal health and injury prevention.

Moderator:   Vivien Kossuth

Date: Thursday, March 24, 2016
Time: Noon - 1:30 PM (30 minutes each for presentation, lunch and Q & A)
Location: Country Kitchen Catering (Lower level of The Keg) 1715 Mayor Magrath Dr. S
Cost: $11.00 (includes lunch) or $2.00 (includes coffee/tea)


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