Increased Risk of Overdose – Nitazene detected in Ottawa’s Unregulated Drug Supply

Published on
June 27, 2024
Health, public safety and emergencies

Ottawa Public Health (OPH), Ottawa Police Service, and the Overdose Prevention and Response Taskforce are issuing an alert to warn residents about an increased risk of overdose related to the toxicity of the unregulated drug supply. This week, Health Canada detected the first sample of an emerging drug called ‘N-pyrrolidino etonitazene (etonitazepyne)’ in Ottawa. This drug is part of a class of drugs referred to as nitazene opioids and is also known by its street name “Pyro”.  Here in Ottawa, the drug was found in unregulated counterfeit Hydromorphone M8 tablets. The white tablets were three sided and labeled with an ‘M’ and ‘8’: Picture below. 

White pill

Nitazines can be “cut” (mixed) into other unregulated drugs. In 2024, an increase in the presence of nitazenes has been found in unregulated opioids expected to be oxycodone (OxyContin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), hydrocodone and Percocet in Ontario.  Nitazenes are synthetic opioids about 10 times more toxic than fentanyl and between 1,000 to 1,500 times more toxic than morphine.  Because of this toxicity, the risk of overdose is increased and greater than normal doses of naloxone may be required to help individuals experiencing an overdose.

How to respond to an overdose:

  • In all cases of suspected overdose, call 9-1-1 right away for emergency help.
  • Give naloxone if you have it.  Naloxone can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and can be safely given to people who have taken non-opioid drugs (like benzodiazepines or xylazine).
  • Perform chest compressions and/or rescue breathing, or CPR as needed.
  • Give a repeat dose of naloxone every 2-3 minutes until the person responds or first responders arrive.
  • Stay with the person until emergency help arrives. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides some legal protection for people seeking emergency support during an overdose.

Individuals who use drugs are reminded:

  • Carry naloxone – Naloxone is a medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone kits are available at no cost in Ontario. Please visit to find out how to get a naloxone kit.
  • Don’t use alone – A buddy system is safer than using alone. If you are using with someone else, don’t use at the exact same time.
  • If you do use alone – Tell someone before you use. Have a safety plan which includes having someone come check on you. You can also call the National Overdose Prevention Line at 1-888-688-NORS (6677) or connect with an anonymous virtual harm reduction supporter via the Brave App.
  • If you choose to use – Consider visiting one of the four Supervised Consumption and Treatment Services locations in Ottawa.
  • Get your drugs checked before using – Walk-in drug checking services are available at Sandy Hill Community Health Centre and for registered clients of Ottawa Inner City Health’s Consumption and Treatment Service
  • Don’t mix drugs – Using more than one drug at a time puts you at a higher risk of overdose.
  • Know your tolerance – Your risk of overdose increases if you are a new user or haven't used in more than three days.
  • Go slow – The toxicity of unregulated drugs is unpredictable.

If you have a friend or family member who uses drugs, you are encouraged to:

  • Know the signs of an overdose and call 9-1-1 immediately if you witness an overdose.
  • Carry naloxone – a medication that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose.


Opioids and Nitazene Information
Nitazene Factsheet (PDF)

OPH’s Online Overdose Prevention and Response Training

Mental Health, Addictions and Substance Use Health Services and Resources


Subscribe to Stop Overdose Ottawa Alerts. Stay up to date on the toxic drug supply and be notified by email when there is an increased risk of overdose. Members of the public can sign up by visiting and clicking the "Subscribe to Drug Alerts" button. 

Visit to learn more about overdose prevention and harm reduction services in Ottawa. You can also connect with Ottawa Public Health on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Media inquiries can be directed to

For more information on City programs and services, visit, call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401) or 613-580-2400 to contact the City using Canada Video Relay Service. You can also connect with us through Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram.