A new synthetic opioid, significantly stronger than fentanyl by 25 times, has been discovered in the Quebec City area. This opioid, known as protonitazepyne, has been found in pale green pills that closely resemble other prescription opioids, according to reports from public health officials on Saturday. The regional health authority in Quebec City has issued warnings about the high overdose risk associated with protonitazepyne, noting that reversing its effects might require multiple doses of naloxone, a critical emergency treatment.
Health Canada initially identified this substance in 2023, confirming its presence in 25 drug samples by year’s end. Recent findings indicate a surge in its appearance in the Montreal area since early 2024, according to public health workers in the vicinity of Quebec City.
While no overdose cases in the Quebec City region have been directly attributed to these protonitazepyne pills, the potential danger they pose is undeniable. Dr. Anne-Frédérique Lambert-Slythe, representing the Quebec City public health authority, emphasized the severe overdose risk due to the drug’s potency and its deceptive presentation as a different tablet.
Additionally, it has been noted that protonitazepyne is not detectable by fentanyl test strips, complicating efforts to identify its presence. The public health authority in Quebec City is advising those who use drugs to never do so in isolation and to always have naloxone on hand, which pharmacies offer at no cost.
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