- Associated Press - Saturday, February 20, 2016

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Milwaukee County has started the new year with a surge in deaths linked to the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

The Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office said Friday it is investigating 19 fatalities tied to the drug since late last year.

By comparison, the office investigated 28 fentanyl deaths in 2015 and 16 in all of 2014.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1PYYq97 ) reports the recent deaths have not been confirmed by toxicology reports, but indications are that fentanyl likely was involved.

Fentanyl is used to put patients under for surgery and to alleviate severe pain. The medical examiner’s office says none of the 19 deaths appear to be related to the misuse of a fentanyl patch but stem from the illicit use of controlled substances and multiple-drug abuse.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.com

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