MN sees surge of opioid-related deaths

Fentanyl drives rise in Minnesota opioid deaths

Fentanyl drives rise in Minnesota opioid deaths

Preliminary figures showed 172 deaths linked to synthetic drugs in 2017 - a 74 percent increase from 2016 - the Minnesota Department of Health reported Monday morning.

The MDH says the increase is largely due to fentanyl.

Opioid overdose deaths increased in Minnesota previous year, due largely to a surge in cases related to the potent synthetic drug fentanyl. That's 91 percent of the cases.

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says the dramatic increase shows there is a fentanyl public health crisis. "It is more important than ever for us to support Minnesotans in their efforts to seek help and treatment".

The data shows that while the number of heroin and prescription painkiller-involved deaths went down in 2017, the large increase in synthetic opioid-involved deaths caused the number of overall opioid deaths in Minnesota to rise by three percent.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin.

Health officials stress that the data contained in the report is preliminary and may change when finalized. A final report on drug overdose deaths in 2017 will be released in September.