Florida’s medical examiners are warning the death toll from opioids is likely to spike as official data is released. The most recent reporting doesn’t reflect the impact of some of the deadliest synthetic drugs.
In the first half of 2016 drug deaths were up almost 14 percent—amounting to 658 more people—compared to the same period in 2015. Not all of those are opioid-related, but fentanyl did cause the most deaths.
“I can tell you anecdotally, if we look at 2017 that number is significantly increased,” University of Florida director of forensic medicine Bruce Golderger told a House panel Wednesday.
“Many of the medical examiners offices here in the state are noticing 20, 25, 30 percent increases in their caseload annually,” He explains. “So I don’t have definitive figures for you right now it’s a way more than 658 in six months increase.”
And Goldberger goes on—pointing out the most recent data doesn’t cover a rash of deaths tied to fentanyl analogs.
“In the first six months of last year only five carfentanyl cases—I think every one of those is probably from Bradenton or Manatee County,” Goldberger says. “Manatee County, they’ve had hundreds of carfentanyl deaths since June of 2016.”
Medical examiners will release their next report covering the second half of 2016 in December.