Epidemiology of drug-related deaths in Europe, and focus in two countries on underestimation and possible corrections of the reported number of deaths
In 2017 in Europe, the mortality rate was estimated over 23 deaths per million population aged 15-64 overall, although there are difference across countries. Beyond prevalence and pattern of drug use, part of the differences may relate to underreporting. In order to assess the validity of the data in countries with relatively low overdose mortality rates – Bulgaria and Latvia – we conducted a cross analysis of the reported number of deaths, against different sources and data. Whereas there were respectively 5 to 20, and 12 to 20 reported deaths in Bulgaria and in Latvia in 2017 depending on the sources, the analysis strongly suggests an underestimation in both countries. The different assumptions and estimates are discussed together with suggested way forward.