To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many NHS patients died last year as a result of consuming licensed medicines.
The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.
Letter from Len Cook to Mr. Jonathon Djanogly, dated 24 June 2003:
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking how many NHS patients died last year as a result of consuming licensed medicines.(120678)
Information from routine death registration only enables ONS to identify deaths certified as due to drug poisoning, and those recorded at death as resulting from adverse reactions to drugs taken in therapeutic doses. The latest available data on both of these are for 2001. In that year, there were 2,898 deaths certified as due to drug poisoning1 and 133 deaths recorded as being from adverse reactions to drugs taken in therapeutic doses2.
It is not possible to say how many of these deaths were to people receiving treatment as NHS patients. In particular, a substantial number of deaths due to drug poisoning were from drugs which are often misused (1,623 in 2001) or from medicines taken at the patient's own initiative.
1 Defined using the International Classification of Diseases codes F11-F16, F18-F19, X40-X44, X60-X64, Y10-Y14, X85 as the underlying cause of death.
2 Defined using the International Classification of Diseases codes Y40-Y59 as the underlying or secondary cause of death.