Coroner: Overdose antidote helps slow drug toll, opiates up

Narcan used to offset side effects of heroin overdose. (WDTN Photo/Paul Rodzinka)
Narcan used to offset side effects of heroin overdose. (WDTN Photo/Paul Rodzinka)

CINCINNATI (AP) – An Ohio county coroner credits first responders’ use of an overdose antidote with slowing the overall drug death toll, although deaths from opiates and synthetic opiates continue to climb.

Hamilton County’s Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco said Monday in Cincinnati that accidental overdose deaths actually fell overall, from 414 in 2015 to 403 in 2016. But she says no one should be fooled; it’s “because of Narcan,” an overdose reversal drug.

She says deaths related to opiates or synthetic opioids such as fentanyl continue to climb, especially when mixed together.

Overdose deaths accounted for 54 percent of all accidental deaths. The county saw an overdose spike last summer, with hundreds of cases in late August.

Ohio has been among the states hit hardest by the drug overdose epidemic.

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