The present study reports on all deaths related to taking ecstasy (alone, or in a polydrug combination) occurring in England and Wales in the time frame August 1996-April 2002. Data presented here are based on all information recorded in the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths (np-SAD) database. The np-SAD regularly receives all information on drug related deaths in addicts and non addicts from coroners. A total of 202 ecstasy-related fatalities occurred in the chosen time-frame, showing a steady increase in the number of deaths each year. The ratio male:female was 4:1 and 3 of 4 victims were younger than 29. In 17% of cases ecstasy was the sole drug implicated in death and in the remaining cases a number of other drugs (mostly alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines and opiates) have been found. According to toxicology results, MDMA accounted for 86% of cases and MDA for 13% of cases; single deaths were associated with MDEA and PMA. This is the largest sample of ecstasy related deaths so far; possible explanations are given for the observed steady increase in ecstasy-related deaths and a tentative 'rationale' for this polypharmacy combination is then proposed.
Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.