in overdoses — this year over last year — with the use of fentanyl-laced heroin.

There were an estimated 176 opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts last September, which was exacerbated by the presence of illicitly produced fentanyl in heroin. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health stated in August 2016 that among the 439 opioid-related deaths in the state this year, 66 percent had a positive screen result for fentanyl.

Another synthetic opioid that has been linked to deaths across the U.S. is carfentanil. Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator for the DEA said in a statement that the agency has often seen carfentanil disguised as heroin and called it “crazy dangerous.”

Dr. Nigel Caulkett, head of the Department of Veterinary Clinical and Diagnostic Science in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary who has worked extensively with carfentanil, stated that it was used on bison and other large animals that are difficult to immobilize with other drugs. To illustrate its potency, Dr. Caulkett said that one milliliter of carfentanil could immobilize a 2,200-pound bison.

“We have too many people dying,” Baer said. “We have to talk about this as a public health problem and not a drug problem, and we are implementing strategies to address that.”