§ Miss Melanie Johnson
The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.
Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Paul Flynn, dated February 2001:As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking for the most recent estimate of the total number of deaths recorded or coroners? certificates in the past 10 years in which heroin, methadone, cocaine, ecstasy, anti-depressants, painkillers and anti-inflammatories were mentioned (151773).The information requested is only available on a comparable basis from 1993, when text from death certificates was first stored electronically. This enables named drugs to be identified. The most recently available figures are for 1999.162WThe figures in the table show the numbers of deaths where specific substances were mentioned on death certificates.
Number of deaths due to poisoning by selected substances in England and Wales 1993–1999 Drug Number of deaths Heroin and/or morphine1 3,131 Methadone 2,259 Cocaine 263 Ecstasy 113 Antidepressants 3,502 Painkillers2 10,771 Non-opioid analgesics 4,067 Opioid analgesics 7,130 Anti-inflammatory drugs3 366 1 Deaths mentioning heroin and/or morphine, as opposed to heroin alone, are given. This is because heroin breaks down in the body into morphine, and it is the latter which may be detected at post mortem. 2 Painkillers comprise substances identified in Chapter 4.7 of the British National Formulary (BNF). Opioids and non-opioids are given separately because heroin and morphine are opioids. 3 Anti-inflammatories comprise substances identified in Chapter 10.1.1 of the BNF.
According to the BNF, aspirin is both a painkiller and an anti-inflammatory as it appears in both Chapters 4.7 and 10.1.1.