NANAIMO, B.C. – The Government of B.C. is providing $305,000 for HarmCheck, a type of drug-checking technology that was developed at Vancouver Island University.

The Province says the technology, called high-throughput paper spray mass spectrometry, provides rapid, sensitive testing as a form of harm-reduction to help reduce the illicit drug poisonings and deaths happening throughout B.C.

“This technology allows for rapid and cost-effective drug-checking services that provide life-saving information,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

“I am grateful to the team at Vancouver Island University and proud to support a homegrown solution that adds another tool in our response to the drug-poisoning crisis. The project announced today has the potential to be replicated in communities across the province.”

HarmCheck can provide results in one to two minutes by detecting substances present in a sample like fentanyl, carfentanil, benzodiazepines, and etizolam. According to a government release, only a small sample is needed to deliver accurate results.

The opioid crisis has been an ongoing public health emergency for the last five years. From January to May 2021, there have been 851 illicit drug toxicity deaths.

In July, the Province announced it would be investing $2.5 million into Community Action Teams (CATs) to support communities hit by the overdose crisis, including five teams in the Northern Health region.