Opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts appear to be dropping

BOSTON (AP) — Opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts appear to be dropping.

Public health officials said Tuesday that the number of opioid-related deaths fell about 5 percent in the first six months of 2017 compared to the same period last year.

The decline is modest — 978 estimated and confirmed deaths in the first half of 2017 compared to 1,031 estimated and confirmed deaths during the first half of 2016.

The report says the presence of fentanyl in opioid-related deaths continues to climb, even as the presence of heroin in such deaths continues to drop.

While white residents account for the majority of opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts — about 82 percent of all fatalities — the opioid-related death rate for Hispanic residents has increased significantly between 2015 and 2016.

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