MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A jump in the number of drug overdose deaths in West Virginia has prompted a researcher to call for expanded treatment and a sustainable distribution program for an overdose antidote.

West Virginia University associate professor Robin Pollini said the 25 percent increase reported earlier this month is “totally unacceptable.” She says in addition to a sustainable statewide naloxone distribution program, the state needs to expand treatment capacity so that more people who want to stop using drugs can do so.

WVU said data from the National Vital Statistics System found more than 63,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. last year. The national overdose rate was 19.8 per 100,000 people, while West Virginia’s rate was 52 percent per 100,000, up from 41.5 in 2015.

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