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

White pill

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. 

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.  NitazenesOpens in a new tab or window(link is external) 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(link is external).  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(link is external) provides some legal protection for people seeking emergency support during an overdose.

Individuals who use drugs are reminded:

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


Opioids and Nitazene Information(link is external)
Nitazene Factsheet (PDF)Opens in a new tab or window(link is external)

OPH’s Online Overdose Prevention and Response Training(link is external) is external)

Mental Health, Addictions and Substance Use Health Services and Resources(link is external)


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 is external) and clicking the "Subscribe to Drug Alerts" button. 

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

Media inquiries can be directed to [email protected](link opens email application).

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