Officials: Fentanyl overdose deaths up 70 percent in state

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Health officials say the number of people who died from an over dose of illicit fentanyl increased nearly 70 percent this year over last in Washington state.

KOMO-TV reports there were 81 deaths linked to fentanyl in the first half of 2018, compared with 48 deaths recorded during the same time period in 2017, according to figures released by the state Department of Health.

Fentanyl is powerful opioid about 30 to 50 times more potent than pure heroin. A dose the size of a few grains of salt can kill an average-size person.

Officials say testing has shown fentanyl in pills made to look like prescription opioids. It also has been found in white and colored powders, and could potentially be present in any illegal drug.

Officials call the increasing presence of fentanyl a “dangerous development” for users of illegal opiates.