DETROIT (AP) – There has been a marked increase in drug deaths in the area, county health officials said yesterady, blaming the problem on the spread of heroin and cocaine laced with the prescription drug fentanyl.

The Wayne County Department of Health and Human Services reported that 542 people died from drugs from Jan. 1 through Dec. 10, 2006. That is up 19 percent from the 457 drug deaths reported for all of 2005.

Of the 2006 deaths, 178 were specifically attributed to fentanyl, 197 to heroin and 204 to cocaine. Because those drugs often are mixed, the numbers don’t add up exactly, health department spokeswoman Teresa Blossom said. Comparable figures for 2005 were not immediately available.

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