Coroner: More fentanyl deaths than heroin in Ohio county

CINCINNATI (AP) — The coroner in southwest Ohio’s largest county says overdose deaths from the powerful painkiller fentanyl have overtaken heroin deaths.

Hamilton County coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco (LAK’-shmee suh-MAHR’-koh) says overdose deaths in the county totaled 414 in 2015. That’s about a 40 percent increase over the previous year.

Sammarco says 238 deaths were fentanyl-related and 198 were heroin-related. A coroner’s spokesman adds that there was some overlap, with some of those deaths involving both drugs.

Sammarco says heroin overdoses increased 12 percent over 2014 while fentanyl-related deaths increased by 153 percent.

Sammarco says many users don’t know there’s fentanyl in their heroin, which makes it more potent and requires less to cause death.

The coroner is calling for more treatment facilities and programs that specifically reach out to inmates.

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