Opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts fell more than 8 percent last year, according to the latest report released Wednesday from state health officials.
The data shows the first downturn in drug deaths in five years.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who has made combating the opioid crisis a top priority during his first term, called the latest report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health “encouraging news”
The Republican governor called on the legislature to act quickly on a bill he announced in November that he said increases access to treatment, and strengthens prevention efforts. Baker also wants changes in federal regulations.
"We're requesting more flexibility to dispense Narcan, to approve new tools to detect fentanyl, and to expand access to medication-assisted treatment," explained Baker.
Fentanyl was found in 83 percent of the 1,977 overdose deaths reported to the state health department in 2017.