Analysis of cases of fatal poisoning by narcotic and psychotropic substances in Ukraine based on the results of the epidemic, clinical, forensic, and laboratory research (2015–2019)


  • N.V. Kurdil State Enterprise “L.I. Medved Scientific Center for Preventive Toxicology, Food and Chemical Safety of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine”, Kyiv, Ukraine



acute poisoning, drugs, psychotropic substances, mortality


Background. Today in Ukraine, acute poisoning by narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances is an extremely urgent medical and social problem, which is far out of being solved, that’s why there is a need for in-depth study of the causes of deaths from poisoning to prevent them. The purpose of this study is to analyze the cases of fatal poisonings by narcotic and psychotropic substances with the involvement of epidemic, clinical, forensic, and laboratory research methods, aimed at finding measures to improve the health care system for acute domestic poisoning. Materials and methods. There were studied the medical data of patients treated with the diagnosis: “Acute drug poisoning” (ICD-10: T40.0–T40.3) in the Kyiv Toxicological Center, the statistical data of the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, the Center for Medical Statistics of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, the data from reports of the Bureau of Forensic Medical Examinations. The laboratory studies of narcotic and psychotropic substances in the biological environment were performed using immunochromatographic analysis and chromatography-mass spectrometry (device — Aligent 6850/5973N, column — HP-5MS). The statistical analysis was performed using the program Statistica 12.6 (Windows 10/7): the reliability of the difference in indicators in the study groups was assessed using Student’s t-test with a significance level of p < 0.05. Results. In the last 5 years, the most common narcotic and psychotropic substances are synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids, psychostimulants, smoking mixtures, sedatives, or hypnotics. At the same time, the number of poiso-nings associated with the combined use of drugs and psychotropic substances, pharmaceuticals, and ethanol is increasing. During the period 2015–2019, more than 40 groups of substances that led to acute poisoning were found in the laboratory of the Kyiv Toxicological Center. The number of positive tests increased 2.3 times during the study period. The leaders in the structure of opioid drugs are methadone, heroin, and morphine. According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, in 2014–2018, 1365 deaths were registered as a result of poisoning by narcotic and psychotropic substances. In 2018, a total of 399 cases of deaths related to narcotic and psychotropic substances use and poisoning were recorded in Ukraine. Of these, 64 (16.04 %) cases were related to mental and behavioral disorders due to drug and psychotropic substance abuse and 335 (98.82 %) cases were related to external causes of death related to poisoning or overdose. Among those who died in 2018, there were 90.5 % men (361 cases) and 9.5 % women (38 cases). The largest number of deaths, 340 cases (85.2 %), occurred in the age group from 25 to 44 years, 13 ca-ses — in the age group from 15 to 24 years, and 46 cases — from 45 years and older. Three hundred and fifty-five cases of death from poisoning by psychotropic substances were investigated, it was established that opioid poisoning occurred in 153 cases (codeine and morphine — 54 cases (43.1 %), methadone — 76 cases (21.4 %), opium — 15 cases (4.2 %), synthetic opioids — 8 cases (2.3 %)). One hundred and forty-four cases of death from other drug poisonings were studied, including 31 (21.5 %) cases of psychodysleptic poisoning (hallucinogens), 2 (1.4 %) cases of cocaine poisoning, and 5 (3.5 %) cases of psychostimulant poisoning. According to state statistics, the number of deaths from poisoning in 2018 compared to 2017 increased by half and much. In particular, methadone poisoning increased 2.5 times, and unidentified drug poisoning was three-fold increased. According to the intent, the deaths were distributed as follows: 268 deaths — accidental poisoning; 66 deaths — poisoning by indefinite intent; one case — self-poisoning. The opioid poisoning accounted for 28 % of all cases of the psychotropic substances revealed in biological material, 24.4 % cases were drugs containing narcotic and psychotropic substances or precursors, 15 % — of unidentified substances, the rest consisted of other psychoactive substan-ces. The age characteristics of the group of deaths resulted from narcotic and psychotropic substances revealed in the biological material, and in the group of deaths from overdose are the same (p ≤ 0.05). It means that in the samples of both groups, the age group of 25–44 years presented over 75 % of cases. In Ukraine in 2018, the frequency of deaths related to drug and psychotropic substance abuse and poisoning among the population aged 15 to 64 was 10 people per 1,000,000. Conclusions. The results of the epidemic, clinical, forensic, and laboratory studies conducted by various government agencies in the period 2014–2019, demonstrate a threatening dynamic of increasing both the number of cases of narcotic and psychotropic poisoning and their diversity, resulting in a progressive increase in lethality and mortality, mainly among the male population aged 25–44 years. The main way of the use of narcotic and psychotropic substances in Ukraine continues to be the injection of opioids (methadone, heroin, buprenorphine, etc.) and amphetamine-type stimulants. There has been an increase in the number of deaths associated with the simultaneous use of several narcotic and psychotropic substances (methadone, amphetamine, marijuana, benzodiazepines, ethanol, etc.) in various combinations.


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How to Cite

Kurdil, N. (2021). Analysis of cases of fatal poisoning by narcotic and psychotropic substances in Ukraine based on the results of the epidemic, clinical, forensic, and laboratory research (2015–2019). EMERGENCY MEDICINE, 17(2), 101–106.



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