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New drug poisonings warning after two more suspected NWT overdoses

Dr Kami Kandola, the NWT's chief public health officer, addresses reporters
Dr Kami Kandola, the NWT's chief public health officer, addresses reporters. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

The NWT’s chief public health officer has issued a fresh warning about contaminated drugs after two suspected overdoses from drug poisonings in the same community.

Dr Kami Kandola’s concern about contaminated drugs was first publicized in Hay River at the start of 2023 after six reported drug poisonings in a 12-month span.

Since then, similar warnings have been issued for various communities, warning of drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil – themselves highly toxic – being mixed with depressant drugs normally used to anxiety disorders, insomnia or seizures. The combination can be lethal.

In an advisory issued on Saturday, the community in question was not identified but Dr Kandola’s office said two recent suspected overdose deaths had been recorded in the same place. After this article was first published, a spokesperson said the community is in the Beaufort Delta but its name would not be given for privacy reasons.

An investigation led the NWT coroner’s office to suspect the two deaths “are due to drug poisonings,” the advisory stated.



“As one of the deceased had recently travelled back from Whitehorse, we are concerned that this incident may be linked to recent similar deaths that have occurred there, related to drug contamination with a fentanyl derivative.”

Choosing not to name the community, Kandola’s office said it wanted to “warn all potential illegal drug users that they may be at risk of receiving supplies containing potential adulterants.”

The advisory repeated Kandola’s main piece of advice over the past year: to never use drugs alone. The Department of Health and Social Services’ website contains advice if you suspect an overdose.

The coroner’s office is continuing its investigation into the recent deaths, about which no further information was provided.