The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.
Letter from Karen Dunnell, 7 January 2008:
As National Statistician I have been asked to reply to your recent question asking how many people died from (a) overdoses of prescription medicine, (b) adverse interactions of prescription drugs, (c) overdoses of herbal medicine and (d) adverse interactions of herbal medicines in the last 12 month period for which figures are available. (175410)
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports annually on the number of deaths in England and Wales from drug-related poisoning. These figures relate to the number of deaths from poisoning with any drug or medicine or certified as drug abuse or dependence. The latest report was published on 28 November in Health Statistics Quarterly 361 and contained figures for deaths registered between 2002 and 2006. In 2006, there were 2,570 deaths from drug-related poisoning. Although all substances mentioned on the death record are collated for these deaths, it is not possible to ascertain whether the deceased was prescribed the substances mentioned. It is also not possible to ascertain whether a substance was a herbal preparation.
Deaths from adverse interactions to prescribed or herbal medicines are not available from ONS mortality records.
1 Office for National Statistics (2007) Deaths related to drug poisoning: England and Wales, 2002-2006. Health Statistics Quarterly 36, 66-72.