Comment from the substance misuse sector


Letters and comments

DDN welcomes your Letters Please email the editor,, or post them to DDN, CJ Wellings Ltd, 57 High Street, Ashford, Kent TN24 8SG. Letters may be edited for space or clarity.

No offence

Although we feel strongly about the subject of our letter (DDN, October, page 8), on reflection some of the language used was perhaps inappropriate and we apologise to those concerned. In particular we in no way wanted to offend Mr Marteau, who has worked tirelessly in this area for decades and helped to improve care for those with addiction problems.

Dr Chris Ford, Dr Clare Gerada, Dr Euan Lawson et al

Just to clarify

Dear Chris and all, I am grateful for your generous words. To clarify your letter’s point about France, the French treatment system as a whole now has 70 per cent of OST patients treated with buprenorphine, 30 per cent with methadone. The latest French drug-related deaths and OST data (OFDT, 2014) indicate that methadone was seven times more dangerous than buprenorphine in 2012.

If we are to retain methadone as first line, it is incumbent on us to demonstrate that methadone is several times more effective than buprenorphine at keeping the population alive. If it is not, and I have deep concern that this is the case, then we are in the realm of avoidable deaths.

Dave Marteau

Dangerous words

In a climate where those undergoing treatment with methadone are increasingly finding themselves on the end of daily supervised consumption, I found the letter ‘Marteau complex’ signed by Dr Chris Ford et al in last months DDN, which seemed to condone diversion, wholly unhelpful.

It may be OK stating this as a ‘what if?’ academic flight of fancy, but when you’re a service user facing an increasingly punitive drug treatment system, this kind of statement merely provides more ammunition for those voices against OST and methadone in particular.

Peter Simonson, London

Misleading stats?

I am writing to express my disappointment at the way in which the drug poisoning deaths in England and Wales were portrayed in your article (DDN, October, page 4).

The article as written suggests that drug poisoning deaths have risen in Wales as well as England. This is clearly not the case.

In 2014 there were 168 drug poisoning deaths in Wales, a decrease of 40 (19 per cent) compared with 2013, and the lowest since 2008.

Gareth Hewitt, head of substance misuse policy and finance, Welsh Government

DDN responds: Our news story does state in the third paragraph, ‘While England saw a 17 per cent increase in its drug misuse mortality rate… Wales saw its proportion drop by 16 per cent to 39.0 per million, the lowest figure for almost a decade.’ The reference to England and Wales registering the highest number of deaths reflects the ONS reporting region.