Publications by authors named "Isabelle Giraudon"

31 Publications

Trends in MDMA-related mortality across four countries.

Addiction 2021 Mar 19. Epub 2021 Mar 19.

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), Lisbon, Portugal.

Aims: To determine trends in 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-related death rates across Australia, Finland, Portugal and Turkey and to analyse the toxicology and causes of death across countries.

Design: Analysis of MDMA-related deaths extracted from a national coronial database in Australia (2001-19) and national forensic toxicology databases in Finland (2001-17), Portugal (2008-19) and Turkey (2007-17). Presentation of MDMA use and seizure data (market indicators).

Setting: Australia, Finland, Portugal and Turkey.

Cases: All deaths in which MDMA was considered by the forensic pathologist to be contributory to death.

Measurements: Information collected on cause and circumstances of death, demographics and toxicology.

Findings: A total of 1400 MDMA-related deaths were identified in Turkey, 507 in Australia, 100 in Finland and 45 in Portugal. The median age ranged from 24 to 27.5 years, and males represented between 81 and 94% of the deaths across countries. Standardized mortality rates significantly increased across all four countries from 2011 to 2017 during a period of increased purity and availability of MDMA. The underlying cause of death was predominantly due to drug toxicity in Australia (n = 309, 61%), Finland (n = 70, 70%) and Turkey (n = 840, 60%) and other causes in Portugal (n = 25, 56%). Minorities of all deaths across the countries were due to MDMA toxicity alone (13-25%). These deaths had a significantly higher blood MDMA concentration than multiple drug toxicity deaths in Australia, Finland and Turkey. Drugs other than MDMA commonly detected were stimulants (including cocaine, amphetamine and methamphetamine) (Australia 52% and Finland 61%) and alcohol (Australia 46% and Portugal 49%). In addition to MDMA toxicity, benzodiazepines (81%) and opioids (64%) were commonly identified in these deaths in Finland. In comparison, synthetic cannabinoids (15%) and cannabis (33%) were present in a minority of deaths in Turkey.

Conclusions: Deaths related to 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) increased in Australia, Finland, Portugal and Turkey between 2011 and 2017. Findings show MDMA toxicity alone can be fatal, but multiple drug toxicity remains more prevalent.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/add.15493DOI Listing
March 2021

Variation of drugs involved in acute drug toxicity presentations based on age and sex: an epidemiological approach based on European emergency departments.

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2021 Mar 16:1-13. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

Emergency Department, Hospital Clínic, IDIBAPS, Barcelona, Spain.

Objective: To analyse the relative percentage of acute recreational drug toxicity emergency department (ED) presentations involving the main drug groups according to age and sex and investigate different patterns based on sex and age strata.

Methods: We analysed all patients with acute recreational drug toxicity included by the Euro-DEN Plus dataset (22 EDs in 14 European countries) between October 2013 and December 2016 (39 months). Drugs were grouped as: opioids, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), hallucinogens, new psychoactive substances (NPS), benzodiazepines and ketamine. Descriptive data by age and sex are presented and compared among age/sex categories and among drug families.

Results: Of 17,371 patients were included during the 39-month period, 17,198 (99.0%) had taken at least one of the investigated drugs (median age: 31 years; 23.9% female; ethanol co-ingestion recorded in 41.5%, unknown in 31.2%; multiple drug use in 37.9%). Opioids (in 31.4% of patients) and amphetamines (23.3%) were the most frequently involved and hallucinogens (1.9%) and ketamine (1.7%) the least. Overall, female patients were younger than males, both in the whole cohort (median age 29 vs. 32 years;  < 0.001) and in all drug groups except benzodiazepines (median age 36 vs. 36 years;  = 0.83). The relative proportion of each drug group was different at every age strata and some patterns could be clearly described: cannabis, NPS and hallucinogens were the most common in patients <20 years; amphetamines, ketamine and cocaine in the 20- to 39-year group; GHB/GBL in the 30- to 39-year group; and opioids and benzodiazepines in patients ≥40 years. Ethanol and other drug co-ingestion was more frequent at middle-ages, and multidrug co-ingestion was more common in females than males.

Conclusion: Differences in the drugs involved in acute drug toxicity presentations according to age and sex may be relevant for developing drug-prevention and education programs for some particular subgroups of the population based on the increased risk of adverse events in specific sex and/or age strata.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15563650.2021.1884693DOI Listing
March 2021

Rhabdomyolysis related to acute recreational drug toxicity-A Euro-DEN study.

PLoS One 2021 11;16(3):e0246297. Epub 2021 Mar 11.

Department of Clinical Toxicology, Medical University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland.

Background: This study was conducted to retrospectively assess the relationships between: rhabdomyolysis (quantified by creatine kinase (CK) activity) and kidney injury (quantified by serum creatinine concentration), sex, age, body temperature on admission, presence of seizures, and agitation or aggression in patients presenting to the Emergency Department with acute recreational drug toxicity. We also investigated the association with the substances ingested.

Methods: All presentations to the 16 sentinel Euro-DEN centres in 10 European countries with acute recreational drug toxicity during the first year of the Euro-DEN study (October 2013 to September 2014) were considered. Cases that had abnormal CK activity recorded as part of routine clinical care were divided into 3 cohorts depending on peak CK activity. Cases with normal CK activity were included as a control group (4th cohort).

Results: Only 1,015 (18.4%) of the 5,529 Euro-DEN presentations had CK activity concentration recorded. Of this group 353 (34.8%) had also creatinine concentration measured. There were 375 (36.9%) with minor rhabdomyolysis, 69 (6.8%) with moderate rhabdomyolysis, and 24 (2.4%) with severe rhabdomyolysis; 547 (53.9%) were included in the control group. There was a positive correlation between CK activity and creatinine concentration (correlation coefficient r = 0.71, p<0.0001). There was no correlation between CK activity and body temperature at the time of presentation to the ED (correlation coefficient r = 0.07, p = 0.03). There was a positive correlation between CK activity and length of stay in the hospital (r = 0.31, p<0.001). There was no association between CK activity and the presence of seizures (p = 0.33) or agitation/aggression (p = 0.45), patients age (p = 0.4) or sex (p = 0.25). The 5 most common agents amongst patients presenting with rhabdomyolysis were: cocaine (n = 107; 22.9% presentations), amphetamine (76; 16.2%), cannabis (74; 15.8%), GHB/GBL (72; 15.4%) and heroin (67; 14.3%). The distribution of rhabdomyolysis in 5 most common drugs was (drug; patients with rhabdomyolysis, patients without rhabdomyolysis): cocaine (107, 122), cannabis (74, 117), GHB/GBL (72, 81), amphetamine (76, 66), heroin (67, 70).

Conclusions: Abnormal values of CK activity occurred in almost half (46.1%) of presentations to the Emergency Department with acute recreational drug toxicity in whom CK activity was measured; however, severe rhabdomyolysis is seen in only a small minority (2.4%). Those with rhabdomyolysis are at significantly higher risk of kidney injury and have a longer length of hospital stay.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0246297PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7951866PMC
March 2021

Is Europe facing an opioid epidemic: What does European monitoring data tell us?

Eur J Pain 2021 05 2;25(5):1072-1080. Epub 2021 Feb 2.

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Lisbon, Portugal.

This paper addresses the question of whether Europe is facing an opioid epidemic and utilizes data from the European monitoring system on opioid use, harms and availability, to help assess the situation. Data sources covering the last decade on overdose deaths, drug treatment entrants and drug-related emergencies suggest that the health burden associated with opioid use is mostly related to the consumption of heroin - and to a lesser extent diverted opioid substitution treatment medications - and that it is primarily affecting an ageing cohort of vulnerable users, with little evidence of an increase in initiation. While opioid-related deaths are currently at much lower levels than in the United States, they still represent a large preventable health burden with differences across EU countries. There is also increasing concern related to the high availability of heroin, illicitly produced synthetic opioids and diverted opioid pain medications on the European drugs market. Trends in the latter categories are poorly monitored and we may miss signs of emerging problems. Moreover, the economic recession following the COVID-19 pandemic has a potential to lead to resurgence in opioid use and harms. SIGNIFICANCE: This paper looks at data from the European monitoring system to address the question of whether Europe is facing an opioid epidemic. It reviews available health and supply side indicators, considering the limitations of each data source. A summary of the available evidence would suggest that while opioid-related deaths in Europe represent a large preventable health burden with differences across EU countries, Europe as a whole is not facing an opioid crisis of the size and nature seen in the US.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ejp.1728DOI Listing
May 2021

[Use of synthetic substances in France and in Europe].

Therapie 2021 May-Jun;76(3):221-228. Epub 2020 Jul 15.

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs amd Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), 1750-147, Lisbonne, Portugal.

This paper aims to present the main information presented at the 9th Meeting about addictovigilance in 2016 by four healthcare professionals and addiction experts on the issue of new psychoactive substance use. A new psychoactive substance (NPS) is defined as a narcotic or psychotropic drug, in pure form or in preparation, that is not controlled by the United Nations drug conventions, but which may pose a public health threat comparable to that posed by substances listed in these conventions. The emergence of NPS consumption is a worldwide concern. Although NPS are less consumed than established drugs, there has been a sharp increase in their use over the last few years, notably of synthetic cathinones, synthetic cannabinoids and, more recently, synthetic opioids. The latter in particular are involved in deaths in Europe. However, "established" drugs (MDMA [methylenedioxymethamphetamine], amphetamines, LSD, methamphetamine) are far from being dethroned by the more recent substances: they are considered "a safe bet" already "tried and tested" by many consumers over the years. MDMA, in particular, also known as ecstasy, which has been used as a recreational drug since the 1990s, saw its consumption decrease until 2010, and then increase again, especially in higher amounts; inexpensive and easily accessible, it is increasingly associated with emergency admissions or deaths in France. The perpetual appearance of new substances on the drug market is obligating to improve knowledge on these products, particularly by focusing on their analytical identification, and also by monitoring their use and harms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.therap.2020.07.005DOI Listing
July 2020

MDMA-related presentations to the emergency departments of the European Drug Emergencies Network plus (Euro-DEN Plus) over the four-year period 2014-2017.

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2021 02 17;59(2):131-137. Epub 2020 Jul 17.

Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Institute of Pharmacological Sciences of Southern Switzerland, Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale, Lugano, Switzerland.

Context: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) remains one of the most commonly used recreational drugs in Europe. Monitoring of Emergency Department (ED) presentations with acute toxicity associated with MDMA is important to determine trends in MDMA use and harms.

Methods: Data were extracted from the European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN) Plus database for all ED presentations with acute toxicity involving MDMA use, alone or in combination with other substances, between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2017. Geographical distribution, time trends, patient demographics, clinical features, management and outcome were analysed.

Results: Out of 23,947 presentations, 2013 (8.4%) involved MDMA, used alone (88, 4.4%) or with other substances (1925, 95.6%). The proportion of MDMA presentations varied by country, from over 15% in France to less than 5% in Norway. For the 15 sentinel centres where data were available for all four years, MDMA-related presentations peaked in 2016 (10.4% 8.1% in 2015,  < 0.0001), thereafter decreasing in 2017 (8.2%,  = 0.0002). 1436 (71.3%) presentations involved males. Females were significantly younger than males (median 23 years, interquartile range, IQR, 20-27 years, median 25 years, IQR 21-30 years,  < 0.0001). Compared to presentations of acute toxicity with lone-use cocaine, presentations with lone-use MDMA occurred more frequently during the weekend (58.0% 43.9%,  = 0.02), were more frequently medically discharged directly from the ED (74.7% 62.4%,  = 0.03), and less frequently received sedation (43.5% 66.5%,  = 0.003).

Conclusions: This large multicentre series of MDMA presentations to EDs showed geographical variation and changes in time trends and in patient demographics. Triangulation with data from complementary sources including seizures, prevalence of use and wastewater analysis, will enable a greater understanding of the public health implications of MDMA use in Europe.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15563650.2020.1784914DOI Listing
February 2021

Acute toxicity related to misuse (nonmedical use) of tramadol: Experience of the European Drug Emergencies Network Plus.

Br J Clin Pharmacol 2021 Apr 15;87(4):1668-1675. Epub 2020 Jul 15.

Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, London, UK.

Following the development of the tramadol crisis currently affecting countries in the Middle East, and Africa, there has been increasing international interest in the regulation of tramadol. This study investigates the misuse of tramadol in patients presenting to emergency departments across Europe. Data from 32 emergency departments in 21 countries were extracted from the Euro-DEN Plus database for the 4-year period from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2017. Of the reported 24,957 emergency department presentations, tramadol misuse was reported in 105 (0.4% presentations). Tramadol misuse was most common in Bratislava (Slovakia; n = 11, 7.5% of all presentations to this centre), Riga (Latvia; n = 4, 4.9%) and Munich (Germany; n = 17, 2.9%). On arrival, 14 (13.3%) of presentations were in coma/Glasgow coma score ≤ 8 and 9 of these had a respiratory rate <12 breaths/min. These presentations potentially pose a significant burden on emergency departments with a large proportion requiring admission to hospital for ongoing care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bcp.14408DOI Listing
April 2021

Seizures as a complication of recreational drug use: Analysis of the Euro-DEN Plus data-set.

Neurotoxicology 2019 07 8;73:183-187. Epub 2019 Apr 8.

Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, London, UK; Clinical Toxicology, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, King's College London, London, UK.

Seizures are a recognized and potentially serious complication of recreational drug use. This study examined a large international data set of presentations to Emergency Departments with acute recreational drug toxicity, the European Drug Emergencies Plus (Euro-DEN Plus) Network, to compare presentations with and without seizures and estimate incidence and associated drugs. Amongst 23,947 presentations between January 2014 and December 2017, there were 1013 (4.2%) with reported seizures. Clinical and demographic features were similar between individuals who had a seizure and those who did not, although rates of coma, cardiac arrest, intubation, intensive care admission, and death were significantly higher in those with seizures. There was a significant association between specific drugs and a higher seizure incidence, including fentanyl (odds ratio 2.63, 95% confidence interval 1.20-5.80), and synthetic cannabinoids (OR 2.90, 95% CI 2.19-3.84). Other drugs were associated with a lower seizure incidence, including heroin (OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.35-0.61), clonazepam (OR 0.22, 95% CI 0.06-0.91), and cannabis (OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.50-0.86). This substantiates observations that the synthetic cannabinoids as a group of novel psychoactive substances are clinically different in consequence of intoxication than cannabis, and that individuals who suffer a seizure in the context of recreational drug intoxication are likely to have worse outcomes overall. Utilising this information of what substances have a greater risk of seizures, could provide tailored harm reduction and education strategies to users to reduce the risk of seizures and their associated complications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuro.2019.04.003DOI Listing
July 2019

Epidemiology, clinical features and management of patients presenting to European emergency departments with acute cocaine toxicity: comparison between powder cocaine and crack cocaine cases.

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2019 Aug 30;57(8):718-726. Epub 2019 Jan 30.

Emergency Department , Hospital Clínic, Barcelona; IDIBAPS , Barcelona , Spain.

: To analyse the epidemiology, clinical picture and emergency department (ED) management of a large series of patients who presented to European EDs after cocaine consumption, comparing data from powder (C group) and crack (C group) consumers. : Between October 2013 and December 2016, the Euro-DEN Plus Registry recorded 17,371 consecutive acute recreational drug toxicity presentations to 22 EDs in 14 European countries. Epidemiological and demographic data, co-ingestion of alcohol and other drugs, clinical features, ED management and outcome (death) were analysed for cocaine cases, and comparison of clinical picture in C and C patients were performed adjusting for alcohol and other drug co-ingestion. : We included 3002 cases (C: 2600; C: 376; mixed consumption: 26): mean age 32(9) years, 23% female. The proportion of presentations involving cocaine varied significantly between countries (>30% in Malta, Spain, France, Denmark) and only centres in France, United Kingdom, Poland, Ireland and Malta recorded crack-related cases. Cocaine was frequently used with ethanol (74.3%, C>C) and other drugs (56.8%, C>C), the most frequent amphetamine (19.4%, C>C) and opioids (18.9%, C>C). C patients were more likely to have clinically significant episodes of hypotension (adjusted OR = 2.35; 95%CI = 1.42-3.89), and bradypnea (1.81; 1.03-3.16) and systolic blood pressure >180 mmHg on ED arrival (2.59; 1.28-5.25); while less likely anxiety (0.51; 0.38-0.70), chest pain (0.47; 0.31-0.70), palpitations (0.57; 0.38-0.84), vomiting (0.54; 0.32-0.90), and tachycardia on ED arrival (0.52; 0.39-0.67). Sedative drugs were given in 29.3%. The median length of hospital stay was 4:02 h, 22.1% patients were hospitalized, and 0.4% ( = 12) died. : Cocaine is commonly involved in European ED presentations with acute recreational drug toxicity, but there is variation across Europe not just in the involvement of cocaine but in the proportion related to powder versus crack. Some differences in clinical picture and ED management exist between powder cocaine and crack consumers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15563650.2018.1549735DOI Listing
August 2019

Emergencies related to recreational drug abuse in Spain compared to emergencies attended in 3 European areas.

Emergencias 2018 Dic;30(6):385-394

Área de Urgencias, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona; Grupo de Investigación "Urgencias: Procesos y Patologías", IDIBAPS, Barcelona, España.

Objectives: To analyze epidemiologic, clinical, and care characteristics in cases in which patients came to 2 Spanish emergency departments (EDs) with symptoms caused by recreational drug abuse. To compare the characteristics with those reported for other areas of Europe.

Material And Methods: Secondary analysis of the registry of the European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN Plus), which collects cases in 14 European countries and 20 EDs. The registry included all patients attending EDs with symptoms of recreational drug abuse (excepting cases involving alcohol alone) over a period of 39 consecutive months (October 2013 to December 2016). We compared the cases from the 2 Spanish EDs (in Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca) to those from the 5 EDs in Ireland and the UK, 6 in northern Europe, and 7 in central Europe.

Results: A total of 17 104 patients' cases were included: Spain, 1186; UK and Ireland, 6653; northern Europe, 6097; and central Europe, 3168. Spain saw more emergencies related to cocaine (48.4%) and fewer related to opioids (12.4%) than the other areas. The Spanish patients were younger (32.2 years) on average than those in northern Europe and older than those in the UK and Ireland and central Europe. Fewer patients were women in Spain (21.9%) than in northern or central Europe. Fewer arrived in ambulances in Spain (70.0%) than in the UK and Ireland or northern Europe. The Spanish EDs recorded the temperature and respiratory frequency of fewer patients (29.8% and 30.3%, respectively). Clinical signs differed between geographical areas attributable to differences in drug-use patterns. In Spain, naloxone was used by fewer patients (9.6%) than in the UK and Ireland and northern Europe, and flumazenil was used by more patients (5.6%) than in other areas. Spain saw lower percentages of admissions (4.6%) and patients who left without an ED discharge (6.2%) in comparison with other areas. Mortality rates in the Spanish EDs (0.4%) and after discharge from them (0.7%) were higher than in northern Europe.

Conclusion: The characteristics of emergencies related to recreational drug abuse registered by the Spanish EDs were differed from those registered in other parts of Europe due to different patterns of drug use. We also detected differences between the Spanish and other European EDs with respect to examinations or tests performed, treatment given, and discharge disposition.
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July 2019

Poor Identification of Emergency Department Acute Recreational Drug Toxicity Presentations Using Routine Hospital Coding Systems: the Experience in Denmark, Switzerland and the UK.

J Med Toxicol 2019 04 2;15(2):112-120. Epub 2019 Jan 2.

Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, St Thomas' Hospital, 3rd Floor, Block C, South Wing, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7EH, UK.

Background: Understanding emergency department and healthcare utilisation related to acute recreational drug toxicity (ARDT) generally relies on nationally collated data based on ICD-10 coding. Previous UK studies have shown this poorly captures the true ARDT burden. The aim of this study was to investigate whether this is also the case elsewhere in Europe.

Methods: The Euro-DEN Plus database was interrogated for all presentations 1st July to 31st December 2015 to the EDs in (i) St Thomas' Hospital, London, UK; (ii) Universitätsspital Basel, Basel, Switzerland; and (iii) Zealand University Hospital, Roskilde, Denmark. Comparison of the drug(s) involved in the presentation with the ICD-10 codes applied to those presentations was undertaken to determine the proportion of cases where the primary/subsequent ICD-10 code(s) were ARDT related.

Results: There were 619 presentations over the 6-month period. Two hundred thirteen (34.4%) of those presentations were coded; 89.7% had a primary/subsequent ARDT-related ICD-10 code. One hundred percent of presentations to Roskilde had a primary ARDT ICD-10 code compared to 9.6% and 18.9% in Basel and London respectively. Overall, only 8.5% of the coded presentations had codes that captured all of the drugs that were involved in that presentation.

Conclusions: While the majority of primary and secondary codes applied related to ARDT, often they did not identify the actual drug(s) involved. This was due to both inconsistencies in the ICD-10 codes applied and lack of ICD-10 codes for the drugs/NPS. Further work and education is needed to improve consistency of use of current ICD-10 and future potential ICD-11 coding systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13181-018-0687-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6440929PMC
April 2019

Surveillance of sexualised drug use - the challenges and the opportunities.

Int J Drug Policy 2018 05 27;55:149-154. Epub 2018 Mar 27.

Department of HIV and STIs, National Infection Service, Public Health England, 61 Colindale Avenue, London, NW9 5EQ, United Kingdom. Electronic address:

Sexualised drug use (SDU), the use of drugs in a sexual context, has emerged as a marker of high-risk sexual activity and poor sexual health among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, however, there are no robust estimates of the prevalence of SDU. The primary sources of surveillance data on SDU should include both sexual health and drug treatment services. The challenges to achieving comprehensive, timely and valid SDU surveillance include establishing case definitions, selecting appropriate surveillance settings, and normalising the monitoring of SDU at clinical services. In this commentary we propose a means to address these challenges and discuss other sources of SDU data from ad hoc population surveys and sentinel systems. We also present case studies of SDU surveillance development in England and Switzerland. The patterns of SDU will be affected by a rapidly changing drug market and, as a result, surveillance systems must continuously adapt to ensure that they are fit for purpose and can provide data to guide policy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2018.03.017DOI Listing
May 2018

Intoxication by gamma hydroxybutyrate and related analogues: Clinical characteristics and comparison between pure intoxication and that combined with other substances of abuse.

Toxicol Lett 2017 Aug 1;277:84-91. Epub 2017 Jun 1.

Department of Clinical Toxicology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich, Germany.

Objective: To study the profile of European gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and gammabutyrolactone (GBL) intoxication and analyse the differences in the clinical manifestations produced by intoxication by GHB/GBL alone and in combination with other substances of abuse.

Method: We prospectively collected data on all the patients attended in the Emergency Departments (ED) of the centres participating in the Euro-DEN network over 12 months (October 2013 to September 2014) with a primary presenting complaint of drug intoxication (excluding ethanol alone) and registered the epidemiological and clinical data and outcomes.

Results: We included 710 cases (83% males, mean age 31 years), representing 12.6% of the total cases attended for drug intoxication. Of these, 73.5% arrived at the ED by ambulance, predominantly during weekend, and 71.7% consumed GHB/GBL in combination with other substances of abuse, the most frequent additional agents being ethanol (50%), amphetamine derivatives (36%), cocaine (12%) and cannabis (8%). Among 15 clinical features pre-defined in the project database, the 3 most frequently identified were altered behaviour (39%), reduced consciousness (34%) and anxiety (14%). The severity ranged from mild cases requiring no treatment (308 cases, 43.4%) to severe cases requiring admission to intensive care (103 cases, 14.6%) and mechanical ventilation (49 cases, 6.9%). No deaths were reported. In comparison with only GHB/GBL consumption, patients consuming GHB/GBL with co-intoxicants presented more vomiting (15% vs. 3%, p<0.001) and cardiovascular symptoms (5.3% vs. 1.5%, p<0.05), a greater need for treatment (59.8% vs. 48.3%, p<0.01) and a longer ED stay (11.3% vs. 3.6% patients with ED stay >12h, p<0.01).

Conclusions: The profile of the typical GHB/GBL-intoxicated European is a young male, requiring care for altered behaviour and reduced level of consciousness, mainly during the weekend. The clinical features are more severe when GHB is consumed in combination with other substances of abuse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.toxlet.2017.05.030DOI Listing
August 2017

New psychoactive substances: Current health-related practices and challenges in responding to use and harms in Europe.

Int J Drug Policy 2017 02 9;40:84-92. Epub 2016 Dec 9.

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), Praça Europa 1, Cais do Sodré, 1249-289 Lisbon, Portugal.

Background: The availability of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in Europe has rapidly increased over the last decade. Although prevalence levels of NPS use remain low in the general European population, there are serious concerns associated with more problematic forms of use and harms in particular populations and settings. It has thus become a priority to formulate and implement effective public health responses. However, considerable knowledge gaps remain on current practices as well as on the challenges and needs of European health professionals who are responding to use and harms caused by these substances. The aim of this study was to explore current health responses to NPS, and highlight key issues in order to inform planning and implementation of adequate responses.

Methods: This scoping study was based on a targeted multi-source data collection exercise focusing on the provision of health and drug interventions associated with NPS use and harms, in selected intervention settings across Europe.

Results: Findings revealed that in the absence of specific evidence, health professionals across most intervention settings rely primarily on acquired expertise with traditional drugs when addressing NPS-related harms. This study also identified a gap in the availability and access to timely and reliable information on NPS to users and health professionals. Health professionals in sexual health settings and custodial settings in contact with certain risk groups reported particular challenges in responding to NPS-related harms.

Conclusion: Immediate investments are required in expanding substance identification capabilities, competence building among professionals and dissemination of risk information among relevant stakeholders. The risks of neglecting under-served risk populations and failure to address the information needs of health professionals and users on NPS harms in a context of rapid changing drug markets in Europe may have unforeseeable consequences at societal level.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.10.004DOI Listing
February 2017

Psychosis associated with acute recreational drug toxicity: a European case series.

BMC Psychiatry 2016 08 18;16:293. Epub 2016 Aug 18.

Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, London, UK.

Background: Psychosis can be associated with acute recreational drug and novel psychoactive substance (NPS) toxicity. However, there is limited data available on how common this is and which drugs are most frequently implicated. We describe a European case series of psychosis associated with acute recreational drug toxicity, and estimate the frequency of psychosis for different recreational drugs.

Methods: The European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN) collects data on presentations to Emergency Departments (EDs) with acute recreational drug and NPS toxicity at 16 centres in ten countries. Euro-DEN data from October 2013 through September 2014 was retrospectively searched, and cases with psychosis were included. The proportion of cases with psychosis per drug was calculated in the searched Euro-DEN dataset.

Results: Psychosis was present in 348 (6.3 %) of 5529 cases. The median (interquartile range) age was 29 (24-38) years, 276 (79.3 %) were male and 114 (32.8 %) were admitted to psychiatric ward. The drugs most commonly reported were cannabis in 90 (25.9 %) cases, amphetamine in 87 (25.0 %) and cocaine in 56 (16.1 %). More than one drug was taken in 189 (54.3 %) cases. Psychosis was frequent in those ED presentations involving tryptamines (4/7; 57.1 %), methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) (6/22; 27.3 %), methylphenidate (6/26; 23.1 %), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) (18/86; 20.9 %), psilocybe mushrooms (3/16; 18.8 %), synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (4/26; 15.4 %) and amphetamine (87/593; 14.7 %), but less common in those involving mephedrone (14/245; 5.7 %), methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) (20/461; 4.3 %) and methedrone (3/92; 3.3 %). Amphetamine was the most frequent drug associated with psychosis when only one agent was reported, with psychosis occurring in 32.4 % of these presentations.

Conclusion: The frequency of psychosis in acute recreational drug toxicity varies considerably between drugs, but is a major problem in amphetamine poisoning. In rapidly changing drug markets and patterns of use, the Euro-DEN sentinel network contributes to measuring the scale of drug-related harms in Europe beyond other more established indicators.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12888-016-1002-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4990880PMC
August 2016

Acute recreational drug and new psychoactive substance toxicity in Europe: 12 months data collection from the European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN).

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2015 Nov;53(9):893-900

a Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners , London , UK.

Context: Despite the potential for recreational drugs and new psychoactive substances (NPSs) to cause significant morbidity and mortality, there is limited collection of systematic data on acute drug/NPS toxicity in Europe.

Objective: To report data on acute drug/NPS toxicity collected by a network of sentinel centres across Europe with a specialist clinical and research interest in the acute toxicity of recreational drugs and NPS to address this knowledge gap.

Methods: Sixteen sentinel centres in 10 European countries (Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK) collected data on all acute drug toxicity presentations to their Emergency Rooms (ERs) for 12 months (October 2013-September 2014); information on the drug(s) involved in the presentations was on the basis of patient self-reporting.

Results: Data were collected on a total of 5529 presentations involving 8709 drugs (median (interquartile range [IQR]): 1 (1-2) drugs per presentation), a median of 0.3% of all ER attendances. Classical recreational drugs were most common (64.6%) followed by prescription drugs (26.5%) and NPS (5.6%). The 'top five' drugs recorded were heroin (1345 reports), cocaine (957), cannabis (904), GHB/GBL (711) and amphetamine (593). 69.5% of individuals went to hospital by ambulance (peak time between 19:00 and 02:00 at weekends); the median (IQR) age was 31 (24-39) years and 75.4% were male. Although serious clinical features were not seen in most presentations and 56.9% were medically discharged from the ER (median length of stay: 4.6 hours), a significant number (26.5%) was agitated, in 10.5% the GCS was 8 or less and 35 presented in cardiac arrest. There were 27 fatalities with opioids implicated in 13.

Conclusion: The Euro-DEN dataset provides a unique insight into the drugs involved in and clinical pattern of toxicity/outcome of acute recreational drug toxicity presentations to hospitals around Europe. This is complimentary to other indicators of drug-related harm and helps to build a fuller picture of the public health implications of drug use in Europe.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/15563650.2015.1088157DOI Listing
November 2015

Fentanyls: Are we missing the signs? Highly potent and on the rise in Europe.

Int J Drug Policy 2015 Jul 17;26(7):626-31. Epub 2015 Apr 17.

EMCDDA, Lisbon, Portugal.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic historically used as a pain reliever and an anaesthetic. Recent concerns have arisen around the illicit use of fentanyl and its analogues in a number of European countries, linked to their high potency and associated risk of fatal overdose. Evidence has been emerging from Estonia for over a decade of entrenched patterns of fentanyl use, including injection of the drug and hundreds of overdose deaths. More recently, reports indicate that both fentanyl and 3-methylfentanyl (TMF) have been marketed as a replacement for heroin in European countries (e.g. Bulgaria, Slovakia) affected by heroin shortages. In addition, Germany, Finland and the United Kingdom, reported new outbreaks of fentanyl-related deaths. This combination of increasing mortality data alongside law enforcement intelligence suggesting both diversion and illicit production of fentanyls, prompted wider investigation using a targeted multi-source data collection exercise and analysis. This identified that in the European context, fentanyls are 'low use but high risk/harm' substances. Evidence shows that Estonia stands out as having an endemic problem, while the use of fentanyls in other European countries appears to be geographically localised. Developments in illicit supply of fentanyls reflect the complexity of Europe's contemporary drug market: manifesting illicit production and use, the diversion and misuse of medicines, and the online sale of non-controlled new psychoactive substances. Likewise effective and integrated responses will need to address fentanyl production, diversion as well as ensuring the availability of harm reduction measures to users.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2015.04.003DOI Listing
July 2015

Presentations to the Emergency Department Following Cannabis use--a Multi-Centre Case Series from Ten European Countries.

J Med Toxicol 2015 Dec;11(4):415-21

Clinical Toxicology, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's Health Partners, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7EH, London, UK.

Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in Europe, and is generally regarded as having low acute toxicity. We present the findings of the first 6 months of data collection from the Euro-DEN project on presentations related to cannabis use to further understand the acute toxicity related to the use of cannabis. Data was extracted on clinical features, treatment and outcome from the Euro-DEN minimum dataset for all cases of acute recreational drug toxicity reported 1st October 2013 to 31st March 2014 for all cannabis-related presentations. Of 2198 presentations reported by 14 of the 16 Euro-DEN centres, 356 (16.2 %) involved cannabis either alone or together with other drugs/alcohol. There were 36 that involved lone use of cannabis (1.6 % of all presentations). Of the 35 non-fatal lone cannabis presentations, the most commonly reported features were neuro-behavioural (agitation/aggression 8 (22.9 %), psychosis 7 (20.0 %), anxiety 7 (20.0 %)) and vomiting 6 (17.1 %). Most patients (25, 71.4 %) received no treatment and 30 (85.7 %) were discharged/self-discharged from the ED. There was one fatality amongst these lone-cannabis cases: an 18-year-old male collapsed with an asystolic cardiac arrest whilst smoking cannabis and suffered hypoxic brain injury related to prolonged cardiac arrest. THC was detected in a urine sample taken at ED arrival; no other drugs were detected. Lone acute cannabis toxicity was typically associated with neuro-behavioural symptoms and vomiting. Although uncommon, severe toxicity including cardiovascular toxicity and death may be under-recognised, and it is important that Emergency Physicians are aware of this.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13181-014-0460-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4675614PMC
December 2015

Current European data collection on emergency department presentations with acute recreational drug toxicity: gaps and national variations.

Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2014 Dec 31;52(10):1005-12. Epub 2014 Oct 31.

Medical Division, Department of Acute Medicine, Norwegian National Unit for CBRNe Medicine, Oslo University Hospital , Oslo , Norway.

Background: The number of new (novel) psychoactive substances (NPS) available in the illegal market is increasing; however, current monitoring of the drug situation in Europe focuses mainly on classical drugs of abuse, with limited emphasis on clinical presentation in the emergency department (ED). The European Drug Emergencies Network (Euro-DEN) is a European Commission-funded project that aims to improve the knowledge of acute drug toxicity of both classical recreational drugs and NPS. As a baseline for this project, we performed a study to establish which data are currently being collected and reported in Europe on ED presentations with acute toxicity related to NPS and classical drugs of abuse.

Methods: We used a three-pronged approach to identify any systematic collection of data on NPS toxicity in Europe by i) performing a literature search, ii) utilising an online survey of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction Re seau Europe en d'Information sur les Drogues et les Toxicomanies national focal points and iii) exploiting the knowledge and resources of the Euro-DEN network members.

Results: The literature search revealed 21 papers appropriate for assessment, but only one described a systematic collection of clinical data on NPS. Twenty-seven of thirty countries responded to the online survey. More than half of all the countries (52%) did not perform any registration at all of such data, 37% collected systematic clinical data on NPS at a national level, while 44% collected data on classical drugs. A few examples for good practice of systematic collection of clinical data on ED presentations due to acute toxicity were identified.

Conclusion: The systematic collection of data on ED presentation of toxicity related to NPS and classical drugs in Europe is scarce; the existing collection is limited to single centres, single countries, groups of patients or not focused on novel drugs; the collection of data is highly variable between the different countries. Euro-DEN, a European Commission funded project, aims at closing some of these gaps.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/15563650.2014.976792DOI Listing
December 2014

Prescription opioid abuse in the UK.

Br J Clin Pharmacol 2013 Nov;76(5):823-4

Health Consequences, Prevalence, Consequences and Data Management Unit, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), Lisbon, Portugal.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bcp.12133DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3853541PMC
November 2013

Cocaine-related health emergencies in Europe: a review of sources of information, trends and implications for service development.

Eur Addict Res 2013 5;19(2):74-81. Epub 2012 Oct 5.

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Lisbon, Portugal.

Background: Cocaine-related health consequences are difficult to observe. Data on drug users in health-emergency settings may be a useful source of information on consequences that are not visible via other information sources.

Methods: Thirty European countries submit an annual national report on the drug situation to the EMCDDA. All reports for the period 2007-2010 were analyzed, with particular attention given to auditing cocaine-related mentions. Analysis was also performed in order to identify sources and case definitions, assess coverage, audit cases and, where possible, to identify long-term trends.

Results: Considerable heterogeneity existed between countries in their approach to recording drug-related emergencies, with only Spain and the Netherlands having established formal indicators. The highest annual numbers of cocaine-related episodes were reported by the UK (3,502), Spain (2,845) and the Netherlands (1,211). A considerable (2- to 3-fold) increase in the numbers of cocaine-related episodes has been reported since the end of the 1990s in these countries; these increases peaked in Spain and England around 2007/08.

Conclusions: The analysis reported here suggests the need to develop more standardized approaches to monitoring drug-related emergencies. It points to the potential value of developing effective referral links between the emergency and specialized drug services working with cocaine users.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000341719DOI Listing
October 2013

Reducing drug related mortality in Europe - a seemingly intractable public health issue.

Adicciones 2012 ;24(1):3-7

Drawing on an analysis of data from over 30 cohort studies, it can be estimated that between 10.000 and 20.000 opioid users die each year in Europe. Typically, annual mortality rates are between 10-20/1000, representing an excess mortality 10 to 20 times greater than expected. Most deaths occur among males in their mid-thirties. Four broad categories of cause of death can be identified: overdoses, diseases, suicide and trauma. While the long term trend in HIV related mortality among drug users is downwards, other causes of mortality have shown little sign of decreasing in recent years. Of particular concern are overdoses which account for 6300 to 8400 deaths reported annually. The fact that deaths have not decreased is surprising given the scaling up of treatment and other services. Opioid substitution treatment in particular is known to be protective and the numbers of those in substitution treatment in Europe has increased dramatically. A number of interrelated factors may help explain this intractable problem. These include: the possibility of an aging cohort becoming more vulnerable; the use of alcohol and other drugs; high levels of ill-health, risk behaviour, and co-morbidity; and social exclusion and marginalisation. Reducing overall morbidity among heroin users remains a key issue for Europe's public health services. More efforts are required to better understand and target both the direct and indirect factors associated with mortality among problem drugs users, if this major health cost associated with drug consumption is to be reduced.
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August 2012

Rebound of overdose mortality in the European Union 2003-2005: findings from the 2008 EMCDDA Annual Report.

Euro Surveill 2009 Jan 15;14(2). Epub 2009 Jan 15.

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), Lisbon, Portugal.

Drug overdose is an important cause of death among young adults in Europe. According to data reported by Member States to the EMCDDA, many of the European Union countries reported a rebound in the numbers of overdose deaths in 2003-2005, following decreases in almost all reporting countries in previous years (2000 to 2003). Further investigations are needed in order to clarify the factor driving these increases and inform policies and interventions aimed at reducing these deaths.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/ese.14.02.19088-enDOI Listing
January 2009

Factors associated with incomplete vaccination of babies at risk of perinatal hepatitis B transmission: a London study in 2006.

Vaccine 2009 Mar 9;27(14):2016-22. Epub 2009 Jan 9.

Health Protection Agency, London Regional Epidemiology Unit, London, UK.

We measured the hepatitis B (HB) vaccination uptake in 249 London babies born in 2004 to HBsAg positive mothers. Two thirds (69%) received three vaccinations and half (49%, 95% CI 43-56) received a complete course (four doses). Complete immunization was associated with sector of delivery (p<0.001), recording of the GP details in case notes, having booked for antenatal care, having a good command of English, and receipt of written information on HB. A third of the babies (33%) had a post-vaccination test; when the mother had other children, 39% of the oldest children were vaccinated; information on partner's vaccination was available for 12%. This study highlights that appropriate counseling and information should be provided to the mothers, and the importance in London of arrangements for integrated care across acute and primary care services.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.12.016DOI Listing
March 2009

Monitoring ecstasy content in France: results from the National Surveillance System 1999-2004.

Subst Use Misuse 2007 ;42(10):1567-78

Observatoire Français des Drogues et Toxicomanies (French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction), France.

The French National Identification System for Drugs and Other Substances (SINTES) is an original scheme gathering analytical information for synthetic drugs, both through police and customs' seizures in the entire country and collection of samples and questionnaires directly from the users by social field workers. Between July 1999 and June 2004, 9543 samples were included. Tablets (7004) were mainly containing MDMA (82%) and caffeine was the most frequent blended psychoactive substance. Mean MDMA dosage of tablets decreased from 1999 to 2003 and dosage for tablets bearing the same logo appeared to be highly variable. Notwithstanding the difficulties for data collection due to the illicit nature of these drugs, this surveillance and early warning system, which combines the cooperative efforts of law enforcement laboratories and social workers, provided relevant and timely information. It is accurate regarding the follow-up of trends in drugs' composition, and the identification of new or potentially dangerous substances, to the professionals, the public, and the European partners.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10826080701212428DOI Listing
October 2007