Nelson Police Department

Public Safety Message

Cutting agent found in a local cocaine seizure


The Nelson Police Department recently received lab results from Health Canada in regard to a seizure of suspected cocaine that was sent in for analysis.


Health Canada reported that the sample contained a cutting agent. Cutting agents are added to illicit drugs by dealers to dilute the quantity of the drug and increase the profits for the dealer. The majority of the cutting agent in the sample was identified as Phenacetin.


Phenacetin was used as a pain killer that was banned in Canada in 1973 and in the US in 1983 after it was associated with cancer and kidney damage. Phenacetin in certain quantities can also reduce the amount of oxygen the blood can absorb which could lead to death.


Phenacetin is rated as being low risk for exposure to most Canadians as it is mainly used by laboratories for research and in small amounts in some hair dye products.


Although Phenacetin is listed on several internet sites as a possible cutting agent, it’s new to the Nelson area.


For more information on Phenacetin please visit the following websites: