MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The number of people who died from the synthetic opioid fentanyl surged in 2017.
A preliminary report released Monday by the Minnesota Health Department says there were 172 deaths involving synthetic opioids in 2017. A total of 156, or 91 percent, of those deaths listed fentanyl as a contributing factor.
The number of overall synthetic opioid deaths increased 74 percent from 2016.
Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says the dramatic increase shows there is a fentanyl public health crisis. She says those addicted to opioids may be unknowingly exposing themselves to deadly risks.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin. The dangers of the drug grabbed headlines in 2016 when Prince died after taking a counterfeit pill that was laced with it.