- Associated Press - Thursday, December 21, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The coroner serving the greater Columbus area says overdose deaths blamed largely on opioids topped the total for all of last year after only nine months.

Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz (AN’-ih-hee ohr-TEEZ’) said Wednesday the county in central Ohio saw 383 overdose deaths through September.

The county saw 353 overdose deaths in 2016.

Ortiz says the abuse of the synthetic painkiller fentanyl is driving the increase, with 230 fentanyl-related deaths so far this year compared to 144 for all of 2016.

Ortiz says the majority of victims continue to be white men, while overdose deaths among blacks are rising. Ortiz said the age of victims is falling.

The state Health Department says a record 4,050 Ohioans died of overdoses in 2016.

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