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Health officials: Fentanyl overdose deaths up in Washington

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington health officials say the number of people in the state who died from an overdose of illicit fentanyl increased nearly 70 percent this year over last.

The Washington State Department of Health said Wednesday that there were 81 deaths linked to fentanyl in the first half of 2018, compared to 48 deaths recorded during the same time period in 2017.

The department says tests are finding fentanyl in a variety of counterfeit pills made to look like prescription opioids.

State health officials call the increasing presence of fentanyl a “dangerous development” for users of illegal opiates, who may be unaware of the presence of fentanyl.

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