- Associated Press - Thursday, February 20, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island health officials say seven more people have died from drug overdoses in the state since Friday, bringing this year’s total to 45.

State Health Director Michael Fine announced the deaths Wednesday night at a community forum on overdose prevention at Miriam Hospital in Providence.

The number of overdose deaths in the state so far in 2014 is twice the average amount.

Fine said the prescription painkiller fentanyl was found in the blood of 28 of the people who died. Fentanyl is being blamed for dozens of recent overdose deaths across the country, including among some who injected a heroin-fentanyl mix.

Relatives of overdose victims shared their stories at the forum, which also was attended by government, police and health leaders.