A 2013 expert panel about the relative harm of 12 nicotine products named cigarettes the most harmful but ranked e-cigarettes near the bottom, in ninth place. Prof. Phillips explores its results in his presentation at Georgetown University.
The various panels used decision analysis to determine psychological, physical and social harm to users and to those around them. Members of the United Kingdom's Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs scored 20 drugs on 16 criteria.
Decision analysis of the UK panel ratings showed that heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine were the most harmful drugs to individuals (scoring 34, 37, and 32, respectively). Alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine were the most harmful to others (46, 21, and 17).
Overall, alcohol was the most harmful drug (overall harm score 72), with heroin (55) and crack cocaine (54) in second and third places. Similar results were found when analyzing the continental Europe panel.
Several experts from the drug harm workshop, including The Lancet study's co-author David Nutt, the Edmund J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and Head of the Department of Neuropsychopharmacology and Molecular Imaging at Imperial College London, have called on British and international health organizations like WHO to adjust their guidelines about dangerous drugs based on the findings.
In the 2010 paper, they write, "the present drug classification systems have little relation to the evidence of harm. They also accord with the conclusions of previous expert reports that aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy."
Prof. Phillips notes the important role of judgment in quantitative models, particularly when there is limited data available, as was the case for these panels.
The 20 drugs rated in the studies were alcohol, amphetamines, anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines, buprenorphine, butane, cannabis, c
|Contact: Barry List|
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences