New federal data show the Ohio Valley again led the nation in rates of fatal drug overdoses last year.
The data confirm what local officials have reported: synthetic opioids are fueling the increase.
West Virginia had the nation’s highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in 2017 with 57.8 deaths per 100,000 people.
Ohio had the second-highest rate with 46.3 deaths per 100,000 people. And Kentucky was fifth in the nation with a rate of at 37.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
The Centers for Disease Control data show the rates for these three states were above the national average of 21.7. The rates are also an increase from 2016.
Synthetic opioids including fentanyl, carfentanil and tramadol appear to be fueling the continued increase.
The rate of drug overdose deaths involving these drugs was nine per 100,000 people, an increase of 45 percent from 2016.
The rate of deaths involving prescription opioids and heroin remained the same at 4.4 and 4.9, respectively.
Health officials in the Ohio Valley region have reported the same findings when they released state overdose death data earlier this year.
Kentucky’s report found fentanyl played a factor in more than half of the …