Overview of Amphetamine-Type Stimulant Mortality Data – UK, 1997–2007Schifano F.a, b · Corkery J.a · Naidoo V.a · Oyefeso A.a · Ghodse H.a
aNational Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths (np-SAD); International Centre for Drug Policy, St George’s, University of London, London, and bSchool of Pharmacy, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK Corresponding Author
Prof. Fabrizio Schifano
University of Hertfordshire, School of Pharmacy
College Lane Campus, Hatfield AL10 9AB (UK)
Tel. +44 1707 286 107, Fax +44 1707 284 506
Background/Aims: Despite being amphetamine derivatives, MDMA and its analogues show a number of clinical pharmacological differences with respect to both amphetamine (AMP) and methylamphetamine (METH). We aimed here at reporting and analysing information relating to the socio-demographics and clinical circumstances of the AMP-type stimulant-related deaths for the whole of the UK. Methods: Data (1997–2007) were taken from the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths (np-SAD) database, collecting information from UK coroners/procurators fiscal. To calculate rates of fatalities per 100,000 users, appropriate AMP/METH and ecstasy users’ numbers were taken from the 2001–2007 British Crime Survey. Results: Overall, 832 AMP/METH- and 605 ecstasy (mostly MDMA and methylenedioxyamphetamine/MDA)-related deaths were respectively identified. In comparison with AMP/METH victims, the ecstasy ones were more likely to be younger (28.3 vs. 32.7 years; p < 0.0001) and less likely to be known as drug users (PR = 1.9; CI 1.5–2.6). Ecstasy was more likely to be identified on its own than AMP/METH (p = 0.0192). Contributory factors were more frequently mentioned by coroners in the ‘AMP/METH-only’ (106 cases) group than in the ‘ecstasy-only’ (104 cases) one (p = 0.0043). Both poly- and monodrug AMP/METH fatalities per 100,000 16- to 59-year-old users were significantly more represented than ecstasy fatalities (respectively 17.87 ± 4.77 deaths vs. 10.89 ± 1.27; p = 0.000; 2.09 ± 0.88 vs. 1.75 ± 0.56; p = 0.0096). However, mono-intoxication ecstasy fatalities per 100,000 16- to 24-year-old users were significantly more represented than AMP/METH fatalities (1.67 ± 0.52 vs. 0.8 ± 0.65; p = 0.0007). Conclusion: With respect to AMP/METH, ecstasy was here more typically identified in victims who were young, healthy, and less likely to be known as drug users. AMP/METH high mortality rates may be explained by users’ high levels of physical co-morbidity; excess ecstasy-related fatality rates in young users may be a reason for concern. Although the coroners’ response rate was of 90–95%, study limitations include both reporting inconsistency over time and lack of routine information on drug intake levels prior to death.
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