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Is fentanyl more dangerous than heroin?

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Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, has been used for decades as a painkiller in the operating room.
Joe Amon | The Denver Post/Getty Images via NPR

Minnesota health officials say the state's opioid epidemic has become a "public health crisis" after the number of deaths caused by fentanyl surged in 2017.

Fentanyl is a man-made opioid that's commonly used to treat pain. It can be up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, and has been found mixed in street drugs like cocaine and heroin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that fentanyl was found in more than half of overdose deaths in 10 states last year including Wisconsin.

What is at the root of this crisis? And how can it be fixed?

MPR News Host Kerri Miller spoke with Dr. Charles Reznikoff, addiction specialist at Hennepin Healthcare, and Dr. Traci Green, associate professor of emergency medicine at Boston Medical Center, about how the crisis has evolved over the last year.

Use the audio player above to hear the full discussion.