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Medical examiner reaffirms drop in NH overdose deaths

December 10. 2017 1:17AM
 (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

CONCORD - With only one more month left to report, the state medical examiner has reaffirmed an earlier prediction that drug overdose deaths for 2017 will decline on a year-over-year basis for the first time since 2012.

Based on the experience of the past 11 months, the Office of Medical Examiner is predicting that 466 New Hampshire residents will die of drug overdoses in 2017, compared to 485 in 2016.

That's incremental improvement, but it's better than the steady increase the state has seen each year for the past five years.

The medical examiner's office first projected the 466 number for 2017 in August, and that prediction has held in the ensuing months as real data on fatalities has accumulated.

As of Dec. 7, the state reported 350 drug-related deaths, with the majority, 311, caused by opiates.

There are 89 cases from 2017 that are pending toxicology tests that can take two to three months to complete, so it will be well into 2018 before the final numbers on 2017 are available.

Fentanyl or fentanyl mixed with other drugs accounted for 246 of the deaths, while other opiates accounted for 44.

New Hampshire drug deaths declined from 201 in 2011 to 163 in 2012, but have increased in every year thereafter.

The number was 192 in 2013; 332 in 2014; 439 in 2015; and 485 in 2016.

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