The number of fentanyl-related deaths in Maryland reached an all-time high in 2017, another part of the nationwide overdose epidemic was driven by the strong synthetic drug
Maryland's deaths from fentanyl increased 42 percent from 2016 to 2017 – from 1,119 to 1,594 – even deaths related to heroin use fell on Thursday, according to the Maryland Department of Health
Health Minister Robert R. Neall described rising numbers as " It was staggering "and pointed out that it had been 500 fentanyl-related deaths in the state alone in the first three months of 2018. Federal and state law enforcement agencies have begun to aggressively criminalize fentanyl-related offenses, which are often blended into other drugs to increase their effectiveness. The synthetic drug is about 50 times more potent than heroin.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who lost a cousin to an overdose of heroin, declared a state of emergency regarding opioid dependence in 2017 and issued a standing order that allowed the overdose drug Naloxone, also known under the brand name Narcan, to be sold to licensed pharmacies without a prescription  Since taking office, the state has spent more than $ 500 million to tackle drug abuse disorders, said Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse.
This week, the US Department of Labor announced Maryland is one of six states receiving grants for the re-employment of residents affected by opioid use. Chasse said the governor has "consistently pushed for more federal funding" to address the epidemic and "unbelievably proactively draw attention to this crisis".
The only time that Hogan testified before Congress was, she asked The federal government increased its resources to fight the epidemic and increased enforcement measures to prevent the entry of fentanyl into the country.
The number of deaths associated with heroin in Maryland declined 11 percent from 1,212 to 1,078 from 2016 to 2017 In the first three months of 2018, the number of deaths in 2017 was 19 percent compared to the same period in 2017, from 291 to 236. The number of deaths from prescription opioids decreased slightly, from 418 in 2016 to 413 in 2017.
But the number of cocaine-related deaths increased 49 percent, rising from 464 to 691, driven by an increase in fentanyl mixed with cocaine, officials said.
From January to March 2018, there were 229 cocaine deaths from 135 in the same period last year.
Almost two-thirds of cocaine-related deaths related to fentanyl, according to the Department of Health.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous criticized Hogan's dealings with the opioid epidemic this week. saying Tuesday that the state published its data late in 2017. The Ministry of Health published its 2016 report at the beginning of June last year.
"Maryland was behind the ball in the fight against the opioid epidemic … It's time the governor personally made sure that we treated this crisis as the public health emergency," Jealous said in a statement.
He has proposed to increase state funding for naloxone, thereby launching a 24-hour crisis centers that work with counties that want to set up needle exchange programs and extend treatment in prisons, among others.
Spokeswoman Chasse said the delay was due to the fact that the data published for 2017 was more comprehensive than in 2016, including breakdowns by region and age. She dismissed Jealous statements about the timing of the data release as a political attack.
"Honestly, it is despicable for someone to use a national health crisis to score party political points," she said.
Data for the first quarter of 2018 was released earlier this year than data for the same period in 2017.