LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – There was nearly one overdose death per day last year in Jefferson County, where heroin and fentanyl contributed to a 36 percent increase in deaths from illicit and prescription drugs, according to a report from the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.

Fentanyl -- a powerful synthetic opioid sometimes mixed with heroin -- was linked to roughly two-thirds of the fatal overdoses in Louisville, the report found. It also was detected in about half of the statewide deaths in 2016.

“That’s what really has driven up these numbers,” said Van Ingram, executive director of the state Office of Drug Control Policy. “It’s the real threat that we face now.”

Jefferson County’s 364 overdose deaths were the most in the state, followed by Fayette (162), Kenton (90), Campbell (62) and Boone (56) counties.

Three rural counties in eastern Kentucky -- Leslie, Bell and Powell -- and Gallatin and Campbell counties in northern Kentucky near Cincinnati had the most drug-related deaths per capita.

Across Kentucky, 1,404 people died after overdosing last year. That was a 12 percent increase from 2015, according to the report’s data.

People between 35 and 44 had the most fatal overdoses last year – 409 – followed by 321 deaths among those 45 to 54.

The Kentucky General Assembly has approved a raft of measures meant to address the opioid epidemic, including this year’s House Bill 333. That legislation, signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin in April, stiffened penalties for tracking in fentanyl and carfentanil and their derivatives.

“We don't have the luxury of pretending there isn't a massive problem," Bevin said in a press release. "The consequences of the opioid crisis are far-reaching, affecting every corner of our communities."

Reach reporter Marcus Green at 502-585-0825, mgreen@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.