Drug and Overdose Alert: The Pas, MB

Drug and Over­dose Alert


Medetomidine, xylazine, and fentanyl found in street drugs in the Pas, Manitoba

A street drug sample from The Pas, Manitoba tested positive for medetomidine, xylazine, and fentanyl. The sample collected was a purple powder. The testing was conducted by Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Service on May 9, 2024.

Medeto­mi­dine is a vet­eri­nary tran­quil­iz­er approved only for use on ani­mals. This drug is con­sid­ered to be more potent than xylazine (longer act­ing and pro­duce greater seda­tion). This is the first time this sub­stance has been detect­ed in Man­i­to­ba. Because it is not an opi­oid, nalox­one does not work on it.

Xylazine is a vet­eri­nary tran­quil­iz­er that can cause drowsi­ness and seda­tion, slow breath­ing, heart rate, and blood pres­sure to dan­ger­ous­ly low lev­el, and may cause the per­son to lose con­scious­ness. Because it is not an opi­oid, nalox­one does not work on it.

Fen­tanyl is a very tox­ic opi­oid drug that can result in over­dose caus­ing res­pi­ra­to­ry depres­sion, uncon­scious­ness and death.

Each of the above drugs on its own can result in a dangerous overdose and death. However, combining these drugs increases the risk of dangerous suppression of vitals (e.g., slowing down of breathing, blood pressure, heart rate) and increases the risk of death.

Health Canada’s Drug Analy­sis Ser­vice (DAS) test ille­gal drugs seized by Cana­di­an law enforce­ment agen­cies. For more infor­ma­tion on drugs ana­lyzed by DAS, see Ana­lyzed Drug Report — Drug Analy­sis Ser­vice | Pub­lic Health Infobase — Pub­lic Health Agency of Canada

If you use drugs, consider the following tips from Street Connections: 

  • Call 911 (or your local emer­gency response num­ber) if you wit­ness or expe­ri­ence an over­dose. The Good Samar­i­tan Over­dose Pro­tec­tion Act will pro­tect those involved from drug pos­ses­sion charges or breach of pro­ba­tion/pre-tri­al release charges.
  • Get nalox­one and over­dose train­ing before using – bring a friend. Check the Nalox­one Find­er – Take Home Pro­gram | Health | Province of Man­i­to­ba for the near­est location.
  • Be aware that ben­zo­di­azepines don’t respond to naloxone.
  • Do not use drugs alone or behind a locked door. Have a des­ig­nat­ed respon­der: Stag­ger use with friends so some­one can respond/​call 911 if needed.
  • If you are using alone con­sid­er call­ing the Nation­al Over­dose Pre­ven­tion Hot­line at 1−888−688−6677, where you will be con­nect­ed to a safe con­sump­tion vol­un­teer who stays on the line for 15 – 30 min­utes while you use the sub­stance. https://​www​.nors​.ca/
  • Use a less direct route when you take drugs. Inject­ing a drug is the most direct and dan­ger­ous route.
  • If you mix drugs, reduce the amount of each drug you take and use opi­oids before ben­zos or alco­hol. Use the most unpre­dictable drug first.
  • Use one drug at a time, test your drugs every time by doing a small­er than usu­al test amount first.
  • Wait before tak­ing anoth­er dose – some drugs take longer to take effect
  • The amount of nalox­one in a take-home kit may not be enough to reverse very pow­er­ful over­dos­es, such as those caused by fen­tanyl-like drugs.
  • If you inject, do not share any injec­tion equip­ment (nee­dles, cook­ers, fil­ters, rinse). Ster­ile drug use sup­plies are avail­able from many places  including public health offices of the Northern Health Region. See www​.street​con​nec​tions​.ca for resources in Winnipeg. 

For com­mu­ni­ty agencies:

The Safer Bath­rooms Toolk­it pro­vides resources to assess and respond to the poten­tial risk of drug tox­i­c­i­ty events with­in facil­i­ty bathrooms.