Published: January 28, 2020

Evaluating Networked Drug Checking Services in Toronto, Ontario: Study Protocol and Rationale

The increasing incidence of fatal opioid overdose is a public health crisis in Canada. Given growing consensus that this crisis is related to the presence of highly potent opioid adulterants (e.g., fentanyl) in the unregulated drug supply, drug checking services (DCS) have emerged as part of a comprehensive approach to overdose prevention. In Canada’s largest city, Toronto, a network of DCS launched in 2019 to prevent overdose and overdose-related risk behaviors. This network employs mass spectrometry technologies, with intake sites co-located with supervised consumption services (SCS) at three frontline harm reduction agencies. The protocol and rationale for assessing the impact of this multi-site DCS network in Toronto is described herein. The aims of this study are to (1) evaluate the impact of DCS access on changes in and factors influencing overdose and related risk behaviors, (2) investigate the perceived capacity of DCS to prevent overdose, and (3) identify composition (qualitative and quantitative) trends in Toronto’s unregulated drug supply.

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