Synthetic opioid fentanyl becomes Virginia’s deadliest drug

FENTORA (fentanyl buccal tablet)[C-II], the first tablet formulation of fentanyl, has been approved for the management of breakthrough pain in patients with cancer. (PRNewsFoto/Cephalon, Inc.)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A synthetic opioid was the deadliest drug in Virginia last year.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch this week reports fentanyl-related fatalities surpassed those related to heroin and prescription painkillers last year.

See also: Tennessee Dept. of Health issues public health advisory on drug fentanyl

Of the 1,133 people who died due to opioid overdoses in 2016, fentanyl contributed to 618 deaths. Heroin contributed to 448, and prescription opioids contributed to 469 deaths.

Rosie Hobron is a forensic epidemiologist with the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. She says fentanyl is being used as a partial substitute for heroin and many people are overdosing because they don’t know what they’re buying.

It’s cheaper to get fentanyl, which is typically developed in a warehouse. Heroin requires acreage to grow the necessary poppies.

The opioid crisis was declared a Virginia public health emergency in November.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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