- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The Rhode Island health department says the number of drug overdose deaths in the state is continuing to rise.

Spokesman James Palmer said Tuesday there have been 72 apparently accidental fatal overdoses in the first 12 weeks of 2014. The department reported 55 through March 4, about twice the usual number.

The health department has adopted emergency regulations making the overdose antidote naloxone more widely available by prescription to police, as well as family and friends of potential victims who might be able to help in an emergency. Emergency medical responders in the state already were using it.

Officials have reported an increase in deaths with fentanyl, a powerful prescription painkiller implicated in a string of overdoses in the Northeast, in some cases in combination with heroin.

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