BALTIMORE — Fatal drug overdoses in Maryland are continuing to climb at an alarming rate.

The state health department on Friday released the number of deadly overdoses in Maryland for the first quarter of this year.

The new figures show that, from January through March, there were 550 overdose-related deaths in the state. That’s a 37 percent increase over the 401 overdose-related deaths in the same period last year.

The report also noted an increase in fentanyl-related deaths, which is driving the overall spike in overdoses.

Fentanyl is a powerful painkiller that is often mixed with street heroin but is 50 times more potent. There were 372 fentanyl-related deaths in the first three months of this year, more than double the 157 fentanyl-related deaths during the same period last year.

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