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Hughes B.,European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction | Winstock A.R.,South London and Maudsley NHS Trust | Winstock A.R.,University of New South Wales
Addiction | Year: 2012

Aims The rapid emergence of myriad substances openly marketed as 'legal highs' is straining traditional drug control systems which require time and basic scientific data on harms to react, presenting governments with the dilemma of no response or a disproportionate response. Some countries have side-stepped this using novel policy and legislative approaches. Should other countries consider them? Methods We review the different laws invoked to stop the open sale of new psychoactive substances, focusing on the European Union (EU). Results Some countries have designed new catch-all control systems, or faster systems to classify substances as drugs. Others have enforced consumer safety or medicines legislation to stop the open sale of these products. The latter originate from harmonization of the internal market of the EU. Rigorous, objective evaluation is required, but first results suggest that these have been effective, while avoiding criminalization of users. Conclusions Every EU country should have existing laws for protecting public health that can be applied swiftly yet proportionately to new drugs appearing on the open market with minimum political involvement. It seems the key is the speed, not the weight, of response. Given support for their enforcement mechanisms, these systems might be as effective and more efficient than the old ones. © 2011 Society for the Study of Addiction. Source

Mathers B.M.,University of New South Wales | Degenhardt L.,University of New South Wales | Ali H.,University of New South Wales | Wiessing L.,European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction | And 5 more authors.
The Lancet | Year: 2010

Background: Previous reviews have examined the existence of HIV prevention, treatment, and care services for injecting drug users (IDUs) worldwide, but they did not quantify the scale of coverage. We undertook a systematic review to estimate national, regional, and global coverage of HIV services in IDUs. Methods: We did a systematic search of peer-reviewed (Medline, BioMed Central), internet, and grey-literature databases for data published in 2004 or later. A multistage process of data requests and verification was undertaken, involving UN agencies and national experts. National data were obtained for the extent of provision of the following core interventions for IDUs: needle and syringe programmes (NSPs), opioid substitution therapy (OST) and other drug treatment, HIV testing and counselling, antiretroviral therapy (ART), and condom programmes. We calculated national, regional, and global coverage of NSPs, OST, and ART on the basis of available estimates of IDU population sizes. Findings: By 2009, NSPs had been implemented in 82 countries and OST in 70 countries; both interventions were available in 66 countries. Regional and national coverage varied substantially. Australasia (202 needle-syringes per IDU per year) had by far the greatest rate of needle-syringe distribution; Latin America and the Caribbean (0·3 needle-syringes per IDU per year), Middle East and north Africa (0·5 needle-syringes per IDU per year), and sub-Saharan Africa (0·1 needle-syringes per IDU per year) had the lowest rates. OST coverage varied from less than or equal to one recipient per 100 IDUs in central Asia, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa, to very high levels in western Europe (61 recipients per 100 IDUs). The number of IDUs receiving ART varied from less than one per 100 HIV-positive IDUs (Chile, Kenya, Pakistan, Russia, and Uzbekistan) to more than 100 per 100 HIV-positive IDUs in six European countries. Worldwide, an estimated two needle-syringes (range 1-4) were distributed per IDU per month, there were eight recipients (6-12) of OST per 100 IDUs, and four IDUs (range 2-18) received ART per 100 HIV-positive IDUs. Interpretation: Worldwide coverage of HIV prevention, treatment, and care services in IDU populations is very low. There is an urgent need to improve coverage of these services in this at-risk population. Funding: UN Office on Drugs and Crime; Australian National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales; and Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Source

Hahne S.J.M.,National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM | Veldhuijzen I.K.,Municipal Public Health Service Rotterdam Rijnmond | Wiessing L.,European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction | Lim T.-A.,U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention | And 2 more authors.
BMC Infectious Diseases | Year: 2013

Background: Treatment for chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is improving but not benefiting individuals unaware to be infected. To inform screening policies we assessed (1) the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and anti-hepatitis C virus antibody (anti-HCV-Ab) prevalence for 34 European countries; and (2) the cost-effectiveness of screening for chronic HBV and HCV infection.Methods: We searched peer-reviewed literature for data on HBsAg and anti-HCV-Ab prevalence and cost-effectiveness of screening of the general population and five subgroups, and used data for people who inject drugs (PWID) and blood donors from two European organizations. Of 1759 and 468 papers found in the prevalence and cost-effectiveness searches respectively, we included 124 and 29 papers after assessing their quality. We used decision rules to calculate weighted prevalence estimates by country.Results: The HBsAg and anti-HCV-Ab prevalence in the general population ranged from 0.1%-5.6% and 0.4%-5.2% respectively, by country. For PWID, men who have sex with men and migrants, the prevalence of HBsAg and anti-HCV-Ab was higher than the prevalence in the general population in all but 3 countries. There is evidence that HCV screening of PWID and HBsAg screening of pregnant women and migrants is cost-effective.Conclusion: The prevalence of chronic HBV and HCV infection varies widely between European countries. Anti-HCV-Ab screening of PWID and HBsAg screening of pregnant women and migrants have European public health priority. Cost-effectiveness analyses may need to take effect of antiviral treatment on preventing HBV and HCV transmission into account. © 2013 Hahné et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Source

Ferri M.,European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction
The Cochrane database of systematic reviews | Year: 2013

Substance-specific mass media campaigns which address young people are widely used to prevent illicit drug use. They aim to reduce use and raise awareness of the problem. To assess the effectiveness of mass media campaigns in preventing or reducing the use of or intention to use illicit drugs amongst young people. We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, The Cochrane Library 2013, Issue 1), including the Cochrane Drugs and Alcohol Group's Specialised Register; MEDLINE through PubMed (from 1966 to 29 January 2013); EMBASE (from 1974 to 30 January 2013) and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I (from 1861 to 3 February 2013). Cluster-randomised controlled trials, prospective and retrospective cohort studies, interrupted time series and controlled before and after studies evaluating the effectiveness of mass media campaigns in influencing drug use, intention to use or the attitude of young people under the age of 26 towards illicit drugs. We used the standard methodological procedures of The Cochrane Collaboration. We included 23 studies involving 188,934 young people, conducted in the USA, Canada and Australia between 1991 and 2012. Twelve studies were randomised controlled trials (RCT), two were prospective cohort studies (PCS), one study was both a RCT and a PCS, six were interrupted time series and two were controlled before and after (CBA) studies. The RCTs had an overall low risk of bias, along with the ITS (apart from the dimension 'formal test of trend'), and the PCS had overall good quality, apart from the description of loss to follow-up by exposure.Self reported or biomarker-assessed illicit drug use was measured with an array of published and unpublished scales making comparisons difficult. Pooled results of five RCTs (N = 5470) show no effect of media campaign intervention (standardised mean difference (SMD) -0.02; 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.15 to 0.12).We also pooled five ITS studies (N = 26,405) focusing specifically on methamphetamine use. Out of four pooled estimates (two endpoints measured in two age groups), there was evidence of a reduction only in past-year prevalence of methamphetamine use among 12 to 17 years old.A further five studies (designs = one RCT with PCS, two PCS, two ITS, one CBA, N = 151,508), which could not be included in meta-analyses, reported a drug use outcome with varied results including a clear iatrogenic effect in one case and reduction of use in another. Overall the available evidence does not allow conclusions about the effect of media campaigns on illicit drug use among young people. We conclude that further studies are needed. Source

Nutt D.J.,Imperial College London | King L.A.,European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction | Phillips L.D.,The London School of Economics and Political Science
The Lancet | Year: 2010

Background: Proper assessment of the harms caused by the misuse of drugs can inform policy makers in health, policing, and social care. We aimed to apply multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) modelling to a range of drug harms in the UK. Method: Members of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs, including two invited specialists, met in a 1-day interactive workshop to score 20 drugs on 16 criteria: nine related to the harms that a drug produces in the individual and seven to the harms to others. Drugs were scored out of 100 points, and the criteria were weighted to indicate their relative importance. Findings: MCDA modelling showed that heroin, crack cocaine, and metamfetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals (part scores 34, 37, and 32, respectively), whereas alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others (46, 21, and 17, respectively). Overall, alcohol was the most harmful drug (overall harm score 72), with heroin (55) and crack cocaine (54) in second and third places. Interpretation: These findings lend support to previous work assessing drug harms, and show how the improved scoring and weighting approach of MCDA increases the differentiation between the most and least harmful drugs. However, the findings correlate poorly with present UK drug classification, which is not based simply on considerations of harm. Funding: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (UK). © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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