Record Number of Drug Overdose Deaths in Cuyahoga County in 2017, But Rate of Increase Slowing


  • Wikimedia Commons

Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson released a preliminary report today regarding drug overdose deaths in 2017. The new data shows that the total number of overdose deaths in the county rose to 727 in 2017, compared to the 666 overdose deaths the previous year.

Of the record-breaking 727 fatal drug overdoses in 2017, 492 were from fentanyl and 191 were from carfentanil, a synthetic derivative of fentanyl with a 100 time higher level of potency.

Overdose deaths related to fentanyl went up about 23 percent from 2016, and the number of carfentanil deaths more than tripled — going from 54 to 191.

  • Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office

The total number of fatal overdoses includes deaths from prescription medications as well as from other drugs. This rate is a 9 percent increase from the previous year, which is a slower progression from the 80 percent increase that occurred between 2016 and 2017.

Fentanyl surpassed heroin in 2016 as the most fatal drug overdoses in the county. This year, the number of fatal deaths from heroin decreased from 240 to 176, at around 25 percent.

The report also notes that Narcan, a brand of the anti-overdose drug naloxone was reportedly used in 7,745 overdose cases last year, likely contributing to the decline in overdose progression.

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