Deaths of individuals aged 16-24 years in the UK after using mephedrone
Gimeno Clemente, Carla
Objective: Mephedrone is a stimulant drug chemically related to amphetamine, with effects similar to those of amphetamine and cocaine. This study aims to analyse fatalities following ingestion of mephedrone in the UK amongst 16-24 year olds in 2009-13, providing an update on data presented at the 2nd International Conference on Novel Psychoactive Substances. Methods: A literature search was undertaken to identify published information on pharmacology, toxicity, and fatalities associated with mephedrone. Fatalities involving mephedrone were extracted from the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths database, which receives information on drug-related deaths from Coroners in the UK and Islands and other data suppliers. Selection criteria: deceased aged 16-24 at time of death; mephedrone directly implicated in the cause of death and/or mentioned in the Coroner’s verdict. Results: Thirty cases met the study criteria and, when known, all were of White ethnicity, most (85%) had a history of drug use and 73% were male. Two-thirds (63%) were accidental poisonings. Mephedrone was used with other substances in most cases (87%); other substances were implicated in 60% of deaths. Conclusions: Mephedrone use can have potentially fatal consequences, especially in combination with other substances. Deaths in the 16-24 years age-group continue to occur from its use in the UK, despite it being a controlled drug. Health professionals and potential consumers should be alert to this risk.