There was a huge rise in deaths caused by the opioid fentanyl in Minnesota last year

The worrying statistic was confirmed by the health department.
Publish date:

An alarming surge in deaths linked to the synthetic opioid fentanyl were reported in Minnesota in 2017.

The Minnesota Department of Health released preliminary figures of overdose deaths last year and found a 74 percent rise in those caused by synthetic opioids.

Of the 172 synthetic opioid-related deaths, 156 them involved the use of fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a painkiller 50 times stronger than heroin, which was most notably behind the death of Prince in 2016.

Today's Top Stories

– Report of rampant daycare fraud sparks call for action.

– Allianz Field to host U.S. Men's National Soccer game.

– Sign up for our daily newsletters.

"This dramatic increase shows that the opioid epidemic in Minnesota has also become a fentanyl public health crisis," said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.

"These data confirm that Minnesotans addicted to opioids may unknowingly be exposing themselves to far greater and more deadly risks than they know.

"It is more important than ever for us to support Minnesotans in their efforts to seek help and treatment."

The MDH says the growth in fentanyl deaths is "outweighing progress in other areas," noting that prescription opioid and heroin deaths are down.

Overdose deaths overall rose from 675 in 2016 to 694 last year, mainly because of rising fentanyl fatalities.

Overdosing on prescription opioids and methadone is still the most common cause of opioid deaths in Minnesota, with 188 cases last year, but that's only 16 more than synthetic opioids, which have surged in the past three years.

Heroin deaths meanwhile dropped 29 percent between 2016-17.

Of the 694 statewide deaths, 438 happened in the 7-county metro area.

Next Up

police lights

AMBER Alert: Missing 2-year-old found safe

The alert was issued Sunday evening.

Irv Cross

NFL Pro-Bowler, Twin Cities broadcaster Irv Cross dies at 81

Cross was a Pro Bowl cornerback, but his biggest impact was made after his career.


Here's how much snow fell in Minnesota on Sunday

Some localized areas saw more than expected.

Lindsay Guentzel

For The Week: What's harder than making a meal plan? Sticking to it!

Lindsay Guentzel says you shouldn't give up on your meal planning routines.

snow, plow

Winter storm warnings issued as snow system shifts in Minnesota

The worst of the snow will now hit further north, affecting areas including St. Cloud and the I-94 corridor.

Matt Dumba

Matt Dumba beats the clock to give Wild sixth straight win

Dumba scored as overtime came to a close for another Wild victory.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Bradley Beal terrorizes Timberwolves in loss to Wizards

Beal and the Wizards handed the Wolves their seventh straight defeat.

Marcus Carr / Gopher basketball

Gophers tourney hopes take another blow with loss to Nebraska

Marcus Carr scored a career-high 41 points, but Minnesota is still winless on the road.


Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 11.01.36 AM

Overdose deaths involving opioids, other drugs fell in MN last year

It's welcome news, but health officials say overdose rates are still at historic highs.

Opioid, suicide, alcohol deaths

Suicide and fatal opioid overdoses continue to rise in MN

The latest figures, covering 2017, shows a continuing trend.

Hospital errors rose in Minnesota last year, leading to 12 deaths

Figures from the Minnesota Department of Health show a rise in preventable deaths.

fentanyl pill

Statewide warning about fentanyl-laced pills that have already killed 1

The pills appear like legal oxycodone, but contain the deadly synthetic opioid.

Minnesota overdose death toll rises to 17 in past two weeks

There have been 175 overdoses in the past two weeks across the Twin Cities.

Man charged with murder for selling fentanyl that led to fatal OD

The 29-year-old had fentanyl powder in his house.

Undercover op sees police seize enough fentanyl to kill 26,000

Two people have been arrested in connection with the haul.