Record Number of Maine Drug Deaths Attributed to Fentanyl - NECN
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Record Number of Maine Drug Deaths Attributed to Fentanyl

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    Record Number of Maine Drug Deaths Attributed to Fentanyl
    AP, File
    This Wednesday, April 26, 2006 file photo shows different brands and dosages of Fentanyl patches, marked with warnings about non-prescribed uses in St. Louis. Fentanyl is a narcotic that is typically administered to people in chronic pain, including end-stage cancer patients. It is also used as an anesthetic. It is considered 80 times more powerful than morphine and can kill by inhibiting breathing.

    The Maine Office of the Attorney General says the state set a new record for overdose deaths in 2016 with 378.

    The office of Janet Mills says the number of overdose deaths climbed from 272 in 2015. That was a record at the time and a 31 percent increase from 2014.

    The office says an influx of fentanyl contributed heavily to the death surge. Opioid drugs such as fentanyl and heroin are the leading factor in the deaths. The office says 313 of them were due to opioids, both pharmaceutical and illicit.

    Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is much more potent than heroin and has been used as a pharmaceutical painkiller. The office says the powdered version of the drug that's now prevalent is produced illegally in labs.

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