The Lancet: Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis

In yesterday’s news the medical jouranl ‘The Lancet’ got national recognition for publishing a paper co-authored by Professor David Nutt and his team, ranking illegal drugs against each other on a new scale of harm. The paper aimed to inform and assist policy makers in the arena of drugs and alcohol by assessing the relevance of the current classification system.

Professor David Nutt, recently national news himself for his sacking at the hands of the then Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson, represents the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs which was set up by himself and another Doctor specifically to throw light on the drug classification system in the UK. For yesterday’s Story: Click Here. The ISCD met, along with two specialists, to apply the Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis model to the various drugs in question. 20 drugs in total were rated over 16 criteria: 9 focussed on the harm caused to the individual ‘using’ and a further 7 focussed on the harm caused to others and communities.

The scores were collated, giving a total score which could then be valued in comparison to the others. For example: The MCDA model gave results for Heroin harm to the individual (34) and to society/others (21). Total score for Heroin = 55 Heroin to Crack Cocaine: 55 to 54 shows that they are to be considered equally dangerous according to this scale. This would help for swift and uncomplicated classification to be in place for new drugs that appear in the marketplace. The reason for the report becoming national news was the conclusion on alcohol harm and it relation to prevalent illegal drugs. Alcohol was awarded an overall score of 72. This is way over Heroin and Crack Cocaine, making alcohol far more dangerous to individuals and society as a whole than the previously considered ‘danger drugs’. The Lancet. Medical and Scientific Journal. Professor Nutt on The BBC News. Video.

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