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State opioid deaths not all tallied; system for investigating, reporting them deemed unreliable


The four-year death toll from opioid overdoses in Arkansas is likely higher than the 800 found in a federal database.


By Amanda Claire Curcio
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

State officials say the four-year death toll from opioid overdoses in Arkansas is likely higher than the 800 found in a federal database.

They just aren't sure how much higher -- mostly because county coroners don't have a consistent system for investigating deaths and because of gaps in training those coroners.

Because of unreliable data, Arkansas was left out of national research on opioid overdose deaths.

Kermit Channell, executive director of the state Crime Laboratory, points to his own agency's numbers as evidence of "us missing something."

More than half of the bodies sent to the Crime Lab for autopsies on drug overdoses have prescription opioids in their systems, Channell said. Read more.

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