SUFFOLK COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- Health officials say the synthetic opioid fentanyl has surpassed heroin as the leading cause of overdose deaths on Long Island.
The New York Times reports that fentanyl killed at least 220 people on Long Island in 2016. In Suffolk County alone, officials said there were 126 fentanyl deaths in 2016 compared with 84 the year before. The number of heroin deaths decreased year-to-year, with 93 in 2016 and 156 in 2015.
Fentanyl can be 100 times as potent as heroin and is much cheaper because it can be made in a lab.
The numbers from Long Island are part of a national pattern. Fentanyl fatalities have surpassed those from heroin in other parts of the country including New England.
The medical examiners of Long Island's two counties, Nassau and Suffolk, compiled the overdose statistics there.
Suffolk County Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Caplan said the influx of illegally manufactured fentanyl from overseas requires "a multidisciplinary intervention from all levels of government."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.