Deaths shrouded in secrecy

THE exact number of Border deaths linked to over-the-counter fentanyl patches remains unknown, with a coroner choosing not to investigate a reported spate of overdoses in Albury- Wodonga.

The National Coronial Information System has revealed 50 people have died misusing the drug in Australia in three years.

But it won’t reveal where – even in which states – the deaths occurred.

This means Border drug workers are relying largely on anecdotal evidence to track the drug’s misuse.

A spokesman from drug agency ANEX, Patrick Griffiths, said it was “absolutely essential” that as much localised data as possible was gathered as soon as possible.

“Drug markets change extremely fast. Our systems need to be as fast as the market in order to save lives,” Dr Griffiths said.

“Having hard data that supports the anecdotal reports that Albury-Wodonga health workers have been trying to raise for some years is crucial in order for governments to respond as soon as possible — as happened in Queensland.”

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