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Mass report: OD deaths down, but 'the real killer is ... fentanyl'

Telegram & Gazette - 8/21/2019

New state figures on opioid overdoses, released Wednesday, show the presence of fentanyl in nearly all deaths where a toxicology screen occurred.

Previewing the quarterly data at a Public Health Council meeting, Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel said fentanyl was found in 92% of opioid deaths.

"The real killer in this is the presence of fentanyl, which unfortunately is at an all-time high," she said.

Bharel said "too many people" are still dying of opioids, but there are "signs of progress" in fighting the epidemic, including an estimated 3 percent decline in overdose deaths between 2016 and 2018. "Really to me what this means is fewer families will have to endure the heartbreak of losing a loved one to this epidemic," she said.

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