MA Department of Public Health releases newest opioid data

BOSTON (WHDH) - The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has released data on the ongoing opioid epidemic in the state, showing continued increases in fentanyl but heroin deaths have declined.

The preliminary 2016 third-quarter data shows 1,005 confirmed cases of unintentional opiod overdose deaths in the first 9 months of 2016, and officials say 392-470 deaths could potentially be added to that total.

The DPH says that pace is higher than in the first 9 months of 2015.

Heroin death rates have fallen, and officials say it is at roughly the same rate that fentanyl-related deaths have risen.

Those fentanyl-related deaths have increased; and officials say 74 percent of deaths in Q3 of 2015 that had a toxicology screen showed a positive test for fentanyl.

The DPH also updated the confirmed number of unintentional opioid overdose deaths in 2015 to 1,574.

“In our commitment to combat the opioid epidemic, we believe the constant release of data is a powerful tool to help us better understand the trends of this public health crisis,” said Governor Charlie Baker in a statement.

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