Annual Connecticut overdose deaths top 1,000 for first time

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's chief medical examiner says annual drug overdose deaths in the state have topped 1,000 for the first time.

Dr. James Gill announced the 2017 total Friday at a legislative hearing in Hartford. He says a preliminary count shows 1,040 people died from overdoses, a 13 percent increase from the 917 deaths in 2016.

Gill says the powerful opioid fentanyl continues to play an increasing role in deaths. Of last year's deaths, 675 involved fentanyl, up from 483 in 2016.

Gill says figures for heroin-related deaths have not yet been compiled.

Gill says a 300 percent increase in overdose deaths over the past five years has swamped his office and caused it to lose full accreditation status because each medical examiner is performing too many autopsies.