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updated: 9/12/2017 5:43 PM

Wayne County opioid deaths in 2017 already pass 2016 figure

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RICHMOND, Ind. -- An eastern Indiana coroner says his county this year already has passed the total number of opioid deaths recorded during all of last year.

The (Richmond) Palladium-Item reports that Wayne County Coroner Ron Stevens says he recently handled the county's 49th confirmed opioid-related death for 2017. He says the county had 44 opioid-related deaths in 2016 and 42 in 2015.

Stevens says Wayne County's overdose problems are so bad that he received a state grant that pays $250 toward testing to identify the presence of certain drugs.

The coroner says five of the deaths this year are attributed to an elephant tranquilizer called carfentanil, which is an analog of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. He says it's one of about 70 fentanyl analogs that have been seen.

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Information from: Palladium-Item, http://www.pal-item.com

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