- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 4, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The coroner serving the greater Columbus area says overdose deaths blamed largely on opioids soared again last year.

Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz (AN’-ih-hee ohr-TEEZ’) said Tuesday that the central Ohio county saw 520 overdose deaths in 2017, a 47 percent increase from the previous year.

Ortiz said abuse of the synthetic painkiller fentanyl is driving the increase, accounting for 67 percent of all overdoses compared to 2016. Fentanyl accounted for 41 percent of overdose deaths that year.

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The coroner said victims continue to be mostly white men, though the number of female overdose fatalities is climbing.

The state Health Department says a record 4,050 Ohioans died of overdoses in 2016, with 2017 statewide numbers expected to be much higher.

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