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N.H. Medical Examiner: At Least 10 Overdose Deaths in 2017 Traced to Carfentanil

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

At least 10 people have died from overdoses related to carfentanil in New Hampshire so far this year, according to the latest edition of a semi-monthly report on drug deaths.

In a letter included in the report, distributed by the Office of the Medical Examiner, Attorney General Gordon MacDonald says his office is reviewing 39 cases involving the drug. Another 18 people have been charged with possession, sale or possession with intent to sell carfentanil in the last month, he said.

“Those responsible for carfentanil-related crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, based on the facts of each case,” MacDonald wrote.

As described by the state in its drug overdose report, the drug “is an analogue of fentanyl and is 100 times more potent than fentanyl.”

“Carfentanil is especially dangerous because it can be absorbed  through the skin so nondrug users who come into contact with it can overdose by touching it or inhaling or ingesting it,” the report notes.

Overall, the state says at least 143 people have fatally overdosed on fentanyl, heroin and other drugs so far this year. Another 71 potential overdose deaths are awaiting test results, which can take several months to review.

Continuing a pattern seen in the last three years, a majority of the overdose deaths so far in 2017 have been related in some way to types of fentanyl, either alone or combined with other drugs.

For more details on what's behind overdose deaths in New Hampshire, explore the interactives below.

Casey McDermott is a senior news editor at New Hampshire Public Radio. Throughout her time as an NHPR reporter and editor, she has worked with colleagues across the newsroom to deepen the station’s accountability coverage, data journalism and audience engagement across platforms.

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