RI health officials: 51 overdose deaths so far this year

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — State health officials say 51 people have died in 2015 from accidental drug overdoses, many of them involving a synthetic opiate painkiller.

The Providence Journal reports that data released Monday during a meeting of the governor’s task force on drug overdose show that 67 percent of accidental drug overdose deaths between Jan. 1 and March 6 involved fentanyl.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says fentanyl is a schedule II prescription drug that is especially dangerous when mixed with heroin or cocaine.

State Health Director Michael Fine said three more people had died over the weekend of suspected overdoses, showing the problem is not “getting better.”

Fine said the revised 2014 count of accidental drug overdose deaths is 238. That’s 13 more than previously reported.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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