Health Department sounds alarm after opioid death

New Brunswick's Department of Health issued a warning Thursday about of the presence of furanylfentanyl, an opioid drug responsible for a recent death in northern New Brunswick. 

"Because of that death we had that had that substance identified, we are just trying to be transparent and inform the public," Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, told reporters Thursday.  

Russell said twice that the synthetic drug was more potent than the deadly opioid fentanyl, but later clarified that its potency was dependent on what furanylfentanyl was mixed with, or if it was used in addition to conventional fentanyl.

Furanylfentanyl is a designer drug, which means it is made in a lab, and is meant to mimic fentanyl. 

"It's not exactly fentanyl," said Russell. "It's a different substance that is refined in the mixture." 

Shane Fowler/CBC

The province would not say the age, gender, or community of the person who died or when the death occurred. 

"For privacy reasons we cannot divulge that," said Russell, who said the drug had been identified in the province two years ago as well.

In 2017, New Brunswick recorded 36 reported deaths that were suspected to be related to opioids. The province has reported at least 16 deaths in 2018 suspected to be related to opioids, but has not provided an update to those numbers since June 30 of last year.