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Drugs: Misuse

Question for Department of Health

UIN 63184, tabled on 6 February 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of deaths from illegal drug use.

Answered on

9 February 2017

A small number of written representations have been received on trends in the number of deaths from illegal drug use.

The Government is concerned at the rises in drug-related deaths and is taking action to prevent avoidable deaths. Public Health England (PHE) supports effective drug treatment in the community and in custody, which is known to reduce drug deaths. The Government has changed legislation to enable the easier distribution of naloxone, which is a safe, efficacious drug for reversing the effects of opioid overdoses. The Department has introduced a new Public Health Outcomes Framework indicator on drug-related deaths to enable local areas to benchmark their performance against others.

Following the report of the PHE supported inquiry into drug-related deaths in 2016, PHE and the Department are helping local authorities improve their drug-related death review processes, supporting an update to the United Kingdom-wide clinical guidelines for drug treatment, improving the sharing of intelligence on the adverse health effects of drugs, especially novel psychoactive substances, and working with treatment providers to develop guidance on how they manage risk factors associated with drug-related deaths.