Victoria: The B.C. Coroners Service on Monday said 176 lives were lost to unregulated supply of toxic drugs in the province. 

In a statement, the agency said this year from January to May, 1,018 people died due to unregulated toxic drugs, a 2.9% increase over the number of deaths reported to the Coroners Service during the same time frame in 2022. 

According to the B.C. Coroners Services, the 176 total deaths in May represent a 19 per cent decrease compared to the number of deaths reported in April (218), and equates to about 5.7 lives lost each day.

“Unregulated drug toxicity is now the leading cause of death in British Columbia for people aged 10 to 59, accounting for more deaths than homicides, suicides, accidents and natural disease combined,” the B.C. Coroners Service said. 

“BC Coroners Service findings confirm that this public-health emergency continues to be driven by illicit fentanyl,” said Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner. 

“Expedited testing in 2023 is positive for fentanyl in almost nine out of every 10 results, nearly double the positivity rate of methamphetamine and cocaine, the next most commonly identified substances. As long as people are reliant on the profit-driven unregulated market to access the substances they need, their lives are at risk,” she added. 

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