BOSTON (AP) — State health officials say the number of people who died from opioid-related overdoses in Massachusetts has fallen for a second consecutive year.
The report issued Wednesday by the Department of Public Health also shows that fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, was present in nearly nine of 10 deaths in 2018. The presence of fentanyl in toxicology reports has been rising steadily for five years.
There were 1,617 confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths in 2018 and as many as 394 suspected deaths. The department says that’s a 4 percent drop from the number of confirmed and probable deaths the previous year.
Fatal overdoses declined 2 percent from 2016 to 2017.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker called the reduction in deaths encouraging, while adding that the opioid epidemic remains a “very serious challenge” in Massachusetts.
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