MDMA-related deaths in Australia
Background: Internationally, drug markets have evolved over the past decade, with the proliferation of NPS, and increases in the manufacture, and use, of high purity MDMA. Within this context there is increasing concern about the drug-related deaths that are occurring at music festivals in Australia.
Aims: This paper presents updated Australian data on deaths where MDMA was considered a contributory or underlying cause of the death, and compares these trends with MDMA-related deaths reported in England and Wales. The complexity of MDMA-related mortality will also be discussed.
Methods: Data extracted from the National Coronial Information System (NCIS) of MDMA-related deaths occurring between 2001 and 2018.
Results: Preliminary findings show MDMA-related deaths are trending upwards in Australia. The largest proportion of deaths identified were attributed to multiple drug (including MDMA) toxicity, while approximately one-third were attributed to other underlying causes (primarily injuries from MVAs), with drug (including MDMA) intoxication a contributory cause. A smaller proportion of deaths were attributed MDMA toxicity alone. Higher proportions of the deaths among females were attributed to MDMA toxicity alone than for males. This is in part due to the higher proportion of deaths among males being attributed to MVA-related injuries with drug intoxication. Most deaths occurred at home, with smaller proportions occurring at music festivals and events.
Conclusions: Credible harm reduction messages, derived from objective data, are needed to reduce risks associated with; 1) driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol, specifically targeting young males; 2) multiple drug/alcohol consumption; 3) potential contaminants and related toxicity; and 4) consumption of high purity MDMA. Strategies designed to engage consumers at music/club events are crucial.