Overview of amphetamine-type stimulant mortality data – UK, 1997–2007
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.