Coroner: Overdose antidote helps slow drug toll, opiates up

(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

CINCINNATI (AP) – An Ohio county coroner credits first responders’ use of an overdose antidote with slowing the overall drug death toll, although deaths from opiates and synthetic opiates continue to climb.

Hamilton County’s Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco said Monday in Cincinnati that accidental overdose deaths actually fell overall, from 414 in 2015 to 403 in 2016. But she says no one should be fooled; it’s “because of Narcan,” an overdose reversal drug.

She says deaths related to opiates or synthetic opioids such as fentanyl continue to climb, especially when mixed together.

Overdose deaths accounted for 54 percent of all accidental deaths. The county saw an overdose spike last summer, with hundreds of cases in late August.

Ohio has been among the states hit hardest by the drug overdose epidemic. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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