Rhode Island health director: drug overdose deaths remain "epidemic" at 212 so far for 2014


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PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Rhode Island health officials say 212 people have suffered fatal drug overdoses in Rhode Island this year, and include 10 so far this month.

State Health Director Dr. Michael Fine said Monday the drug overdose epidemic the state has seen in recent years is "far from over."

The health department said about 90 percent of the cases in which tests are complete involved at least one opioid, and 37 percent of those involved fentanyl. The drug was implicated, in some cases with heroin, in a string of deaths across the Northeast earlier this year.

In Rhode Island, overdoses have occurred in 31 cities and towns. The victims ranged from age 20 to 65; 152 were men and 60 were women.

The department says emergency medical personnel administered 1,532 doses of the anti-opioid overdose medication Narcan since January.

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