Anthrax tainted heroin linked to fewer drug deaths

Experts in the Tayside Drugs Death Review Group in Tayside, Scotland, believe that 10 deaths in early 2010 linked to anthrax-tainted heroin may be linked to fewer drug deaths as compared with last year.

Heroin that was contaminated with the deadly bacterial disease reached the streets of Scotland in December 2009 and it lead to ten deaths in late 2009 and early 2010, STV News reports.

This anthrax scare may have directly contributed to a reduction of drug-related fatalities in the Tayside, Scotland, region from 50 in 2009 to 32 so far this year.

“We must remember that the risk of anthrax-contaminated heroin has been an issue this year and may have changed behaviors,” Dr. Kirsty Licence, Chairwoman of the Tayside Drugs Death Review Group, said, according to STV News. “Cleary it is good that there have so far been fewer drug deaths in Tayside this year compared with 2009. However, at this level the numbers are highly susceptible to random fluctuations and it would be premature to suggest that particular actions are influencing numbers.”

Robert Milne and James Wylie, heroin users in Dundee, Scotland, passed away after taking the heroin contaminated with anthrax earlier in the year.

“Certainly, work will be continuing to try to reduce the risk of drug deaths, but we cannot say at this stage what impact any particular action or package of actions may be having,” Dr. Licence said, according to STV News.