- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Health officials say drug overdose deaths in Philadelphia surged to 900 in 2016, a 30 percent increase from the previous year.

Opioids, whether prescription painkillers or illegal drugs like heroin, were implicated in about 80 percent of the overdose deaths.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports (https://bit.ly/2j80eX9 ) city health officials made the announcement Wednesday as Mayor Jim Kenney convened a task force focused on developing a plan to combat the city’s opioid epidemic.

In December, opioids killed 35 people in Philadelphia during a five-day period. According to Jeffrey Hom, a physician and adviser to the city’s Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, tests revealed 23 of the victims had heroin in their systems.

Twenty-six tested positive for fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that Hom described as the “third wave of the crisis.”

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Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, https://www.inquirer.com


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