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New Mexico fentanyl deaths double again from 2019 to 2020

July 16, 2021 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Fentanyl-related deaths in New Mexico more than doubled in 2020 from the previous year, surpassing both heroin and prescription-opioid-related deaths in the state, health officials said Friday.

Official data is still being compiled, but preliminary results show fentanyl-related deaths already have risen by 129% from 2019 after nearly doubling the year before, the New Mexico Department of Health said. The numbers could be even higher by the end of the year, it said.

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It often is mixed with heroin but is also often mixed into counterfeit opioids, leading to what are believed to be unintentional overdose deaths, health officials said.

“The increasing presence of fentanyl in the illicit substance supply in New Mexico means that people often don’t know exactly what they are using,” Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said.

The department reported the number of overdose deaths attributed to methamphetamine also increased by 11% from 2019 to 2020 after climbing 36% from 2018 to 2019.