Response to commentaries
Dr Klein‟s assertions about the origins of registers on drug-related death are inaccurate, probably due to misunderstanding some of the fundamental epidemiological indicators of drug misuse, including mortality. Whilst it is true that there were many deaths involving the misuse of opium, typically as laudanum, in the nineteenth century, the need for civil registration of deaths in the UK introduced in 1864 was recognition of the need to monitor mortality due to fatal epidemic outbreaks of diseases such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery and smallpox. The UK was the first nation to commence recording drug-related deaths per se with the setting up of the Home Office Addicts Index in the 1920s, and the first statistics from this source were published by the League of Nations in the early 1930s. Publication of statistics relating to the death of these addicts continued until 1997 (Corkery 1997). The national programme on Substance Abuse Deaths (np-SAD) was set up in 1997, in part, to continue to actively monitor deaths of addicts and deaths related to drug misuse as well as to provide a centre of expertise on epidemiology relating to this phenomenon.