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West Virginia drug OD deaths rose 15 percent in 2016

(KVLY)
Published: Mar. 24, 2017 at 11:00 AM EDT
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The number of reported overdose deaths that occurred last year in West Virginia has continued to rise.

Citing data released Wednesday, the Charleston Gazette-Mail

that at least 844 people died in the state of drug overdoses in 2016.

That number is a 15 percent increase over 2015's tally of 731 drug deaths, West Virginia's previous all-time high.

Fatal overdoses related to fentanyl, an opioid that's 100 times stronger than prescription morphine, have fueled a 46 percent increase of overdose deaths in the state in just four years. Drug traffickers often mix fentanyl with heroin.

The West Virginia Health Statistics Center compiles the state's overdose data from death certificates certified by the chief medical examiner. Additional deaths are expected to be added to the total in the coming weeks.