Med Examiner: Fentanyl deaths tripled in 2015

Posted at 8:59 AM, Feb 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-12 10:45:20-05

Heroin deaths are down in Cuyahoga County for the first time in nearly a decade but the medical examiner doesn't have all good news for residents.

Fentanyl overdose deaths have tripled in the last year. The drug killed 89 people in 2015.

Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty spoke in front of the media Friday, saying something needs to be done about the use of these deadly drugs. 

"Last year alone we basically lost two plane loads of Clevelanders," said Prosecutor McGinty. "232 people. What would we do if we had two plane crashes? We’d investigate. It would be awful. We wouldn’t want to have two plane loads again this year."

But he said that law enforcement alone can't fix the problem.

"We are not going to cut off this supply, I'm convinced, just from prosecution," McGinty said. "We need the help of the community, we need education, we need people to be aware of the danger to use these drugs and what a pit they’re falling into and how hard it is to come out of a drug addiction."

There were 198 heroin-related deaths in Cuyahoga County in 2014, a slight increase from 2013 when 194 people died. Still, of the approximately 390 total overdose deaths, heroin as a percentage fell for the first time in five years. 

More stats from 2014 here.