Preliminary report: Fentanyl deaths rise in Minnesota - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Preliminary report: Fentanyl deaths rise in Minnesota

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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.

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