FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Commissioners in the county including Fort Wayne have extended a needle exchange program for another two years.

The Allen County commissioners acted Friday after hearing statistics show the number of fatal drug overdoses there rose to 65 during the first seven months of this year, compared with 45 last year, while nonfatal overdoses during the period topped 800, compared to 740 last year.

County Health Department Administrator Mindy Waldron told the commissioners the needle exchange program has increased steadily since it began last November and now had 140 clients.

Needle exchanges operate in about nine Indiana counties to provide clean syringes to intravenous drug users to prevent needle-sharing that spreads hepatitis C, HIV and other diseases. A state law permits them following an HIV outbreak in southern Indiana’s Scott County.

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