The Minnesota Department of Health released a study that shows the deadly impact Fentanyl is having on Minnesota as the state saw a dramatic surge of deaths in 2017 caused by synthetic opioid. 

The number of synthetic opioid–involved deaths increased 74% from 2016–2017 according to preliminary data.

Of the 172 deaths that involved synthetic opioids, 91% had fentanyl listed as contributing to the death on the death certificate.

"This suggests to us that the synthetic opioids are cheaper and more accessible than the other forms of opioids that people are using," said Jon Roesler of the Minnesota Department of Health. 

The growing impact of fentanyl is so great that it is outweighing progress in other areas, such as decreases in prescription opioid and heroin deaths, resulting in a 3% increase in deaths from 2016–2017.

"We are concerned that it is being mixed in with drugs or being sold as other kinds of drugs mixed in with cocaine, mixed in with heroin.  We are very concerned that the people who are using and buying from street dealers do not know what they are getting which puts them at great risk," explained Roesler.

Since 2000, commonly prescribed opioids have been involved in the greatest number of drug overdose deaths.

Although the number of deaths has remained stable over the past five years and heroin showed a 29% decrease from 2016–2017, officials want to remind people that this kind of fentanyl is not a typical opioid.

"The kind of fentanyl here is that which is being produced by illegal underground labs," added Roesler.  "It can be done very cheaply and it appears that the fentanyl that is being produced is even more cheap than even heroin is or illegal or prescription opioids that are being sold on the street."

Data contained within the report are likely to change slightly when finalized.

A final report is anticipated by September of this year.

--KEYC News 12