The U.S. opioid crisis shows no sign of receding as a new year begins, with the most recent data from several hard-hit cities and states listed overdose fatalities in reaching new peaks as authorities scramble stem the tide.
The synthetic opioid fentanyl, up to 50 times the potency of heroin, remains the chief culprit driving the increase in fatalities, according to the medical researchers and health and law enforcement agencies in abuse ‘hot spots’, such as Ohio, Maryland and New England.
Federal data for 2015 deaths came last month, with a nearly 16% rise to 33,091 opioid deaths in the year. Many countries are still compiling the grim tallies for 2016.
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“We are just really swamped in the number of drug-related deaths, and got acutely worse,” said Thomas Gilson, the medical examiner in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, including Cleveland, and is the most populous county.
Until now, his office has recorded 517 deaths from heroin and fentanyl in 2016, more than double the number from the previous year. And he is not done with counting.
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