Fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Utah increase 78 percent in 2016

SALT LAKE CITY – According to a Utah Health Status Update made by the Utah Department of Health, fentanyl-related deaths were on the rise, increasing substantially in 2016.

According to the report, there was a preliminary count of 41 fentanyl-related deaths in Utah in 2016, the highest number since the Utah Department of Health began tracking overdose deaths in 2000. In 2015, there were only 23 fentanyl-related deaths reported.

The report stated: “The majority of fentanyl-related deaths in Utah involve pharmaceutically sourced fentanyl; however, beginning in 2016, there has been an increase in deaths from illicit fentanyl.”

Lab-produced synthetic opioids are readily available online, and may be pressed into pill form. Illegal labs in China often produce fentanyl for import to the United States, where it is used as a cutting agent for opioids and other drugs. Oftentimes drug users do not know they are ingesting fentanyl, which is much more powerful than heroin and other opiates.

The report also stated that the use of Naloxone, a opiate-reversing agent, has increased steadily since 2010. The majority of Naloxone administrations occurred in urban areas of Utah.