BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An encouraging report from the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center. The death toll from overdoses was down in the first three months this year.
The findings are preliminary, but if they hold up, it would be the first time in about 10 years that the number of fatal overdoses has declined in Maryland.
“We were very encouraged by the numbers we saw coming out of the first quarter of 2019,” Steve Schu, of the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center, said. “There were 515 fatalities related to opioids here in the State of Maryland.”
By this same time last year, there were 601 fatalities related to opioids. That’s a 14 percent drop from the same period last year.
“What’s even more encouraging is we saw decreases across every class of illicit drugs,” Schu said. “Heroin was down, cocaine mixed with opioids was down, prescription opioids down.”
But the death rate remains a health crisis demanding continued focus.
“We want to prevent these deaths from occurring,” Shely Choo, of the Baltimore Health Department, said.
In Baltimore City and around the state, a key element in the effort is the anti-overdose drug naloxone. The state is expected to spend more than $670 million on opioid-related initiatives this year.
The official death toll for 2018 is due out in July.