RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia health officials have identified a significant increase in fatal drug overdoses between 2015 and 2016.
The Washington Post reports at least 1,420 people in Virginia died of overdoses in 2016, a 38 percent increase. A state report also says there was a 175-percent increase in deaths from varieties of fentanyl, a pain medication.
State Health Commissioner Marissa Levine attributes the overall increase to abuse of synthetic opioids, heroin and prescription fentanyl.
Levine declared a public health emergency in November and classified opioid addiction as an epidemic. The opioid epidemic has manifested itself in several states.
Levine issued an order in November allowing any Virginia resident to get an overdose treatment drug from a pharmacy. She says the situation will probably get worse and will take years to address.