Target to cut drugs deaths missed

The government has missed its target to cut drug-related deaths in England and Wales by a fifth from 1999 to 2004, according to figures published last week.

Although deaths fell by 20 per cent from 1999 to 2003, they rose again, to 1,427 in 2004, just 9 per cent lower than in 1999, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Drug abuse or dependency were the underlying causes of almost 45 per cent of the 16,088 deaths from 1993 to 2004. One-third were due to accidental overdoses.

Heroin/morphine was the most common category of substance mentioned on death certificates.

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