Minnesota Fentanyl Deaths Soared in 2017

"This dramatic increase shows that the opioid epidemic in Minnesota has also become a fentanyl public health crisis," said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. "These data confirm that Minnesotans addicted to opioids may unknowingly be exposing themselves to far greater and more deadly risks than they know."

Deaths from the use of sythetic opioid fentanyl soared in Minnesota last year, according to preliminary data released by the Minnesota Department of Health on May 14. The findings are based on a preliminary analysis of death records by the department, which found that the number of synthetic opioid-involved deaths increased 74 percent from 2016 to 2017, and most involved fentanyl: 156 of the 172 deaths (91 percent) that involved synthetic opioids had fentanyl listed as contributing to the death on the death certificate.

"This dramatic increase shows that the opioid epidemic in Minnesota has also become a fentanyl public health crisis," said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. "These data confirm that Minnesotans addicted to opioids may unknowingly be exposing themselves to far greater and more deadly risks than they know. It is more important than ever for us to support Minnesotans in their efforts to seek help and treatment."

According to the department, the growing impact of fentanyl is so big that it is outweighing progress in other areas, such as decreases in prescription opioid and heroin deaths, and has resulted in a total 3 percent increase in deaths from 675 in 2016 to 694 in 2017, according to preliminary numbers.

Since 2011, heroin deaths increased rapidly, but these showed a preliminary 29 percent decrease from 2016 to 2017.

The data are likely to change when finalized, MDH noted. A final report is anticipated by September 2018.

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