Deaths from the potent and highly addictive drug Fentanyl more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, overtaking heroin as the leading cause of drug deaths in the U.S., the New York Times reported Saturday.
The Times’ story was based on an August government report of nationwide drug deaths that showed a rise of more than 22 percent in deaths than recorded the previous year. Deaths from synthetic opioids rose to 21,405 in 216 compared to 9,945 the previous year. Heroin deaths climbed to 15,446 last year from 13,219 in 2015.
Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and two to three milligrams of the drug is enough to cause respiratory depression, cardiac arrest, and death, the Drug Enforcement Administration said. The opioid epidemic has hit certain cities hard, including Cook County, Ill., where there was a 2,700 percent increase in fatal fentanyl-related overdoses from 2014 to 2016.
“If anything can be likened