Prof David Nutt Lecture at University of Derby

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Wednesday 11 January 2012

At 6.30pm on Wednesday evening, I was pleased to attend a lecture by one of my heros, Professor. David Nutt in the series "Scientists In The Firing Line".  






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David Nutt had been the Chair of the Government Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. A post he was sacked from by the then Home Secretary Alan Johnson.

The point of the lecture was to illustrate the fact that law and policy is supposed to be predicated on the scientific advice derived from this committee and the expertese it represents.  Bloody hell, they are supposed to consult.

However, in the interests of political expediency, they sacked the good professor on 30th October 2009 because he didn't agree with the drug classifications the govenments wanted. Probably because they think there are votes to be had from the "war on drugs" and a tough stance. 

In January 2009, the Professor published an article debating how society assesses various risks and claimed the risks of horse riding and other activities could be equal or more in society than the risks of ecstasy use.

The article sparked fury from anti-drugs campaigners and ministers, who accused him of going on a personal crusade to downgrade illegal drugs.

Here is a copy of the exchange between David Nutt and the Home Secretary Alan Johnson: 

David Nutt insists that his advice is based on evidence and not expediency.  That comparitive harms are supposed to be taken into account.  Such as the relative dangers of smoking cannabis, consumption of alcohol, taking of class A's such as Ecstacy and as he'd said horse riding!   

He maintains that classification should be based on such relative harms .... and they at the moment, they are not.

Following his sacking, Professor Nutt established the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD). The Committee investigates and reviews the scientific evidence relating to drugs to promote widespread informed public understanding; promoting effective policies and practice in the UK, and internationally.

Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD)

Prof. Nutt points out an important phrase to his profession:

Primum non nocere

                 =  first do no harm

It is one of the principal tenets of the Hippocratic Oath.  I wonder why others find it hard to follow this i their professional advice.


Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis - Lancet paper 

Nutt DJ; King LA; Phillips LD; Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. (6 Nov 2010). Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis. Lancet. November 2010



University of Derby Lecture listing:

Can we bring reason to government policy on alcohol and other drugs?

Education Health and Science Faculty guest speaker Professor David Nutt, of Imperial College, London.

The regulation of drugs - including alcohol and tobacco - is an issue of pressing importance due to the increasing health care costs associated with their use and the new sorts of synthetic agents being developed and sold over the internet.

The talk will reflect on these issues in the light of Professor Nutt's ten years experience on the government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs from which he was sacked about a year ago.

Professor Nutt shall present new analyses that compare the harms of drugs and alcohol using more sophisticated methodology and challenge many of the current misconceptions about drugs - their harms - and how to deal with them.

Scientists In The Firing Line:

Can we bring reason to government policy on alcohol and other drugs? 



Please listen to the audio recordings at bottom of this article


Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD)

David Nutt's Blog: Evidence not Exaggeration






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Attached Files

Sound Prof David Nutt Lecture

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In addition .. would also suggest .....

viewing these:

Professor David Nutt DM, FRCP, FRCPsych, FMedSci, delivered the Ninth Annual Monica Fooks Memorial Lecture entitled "How can we get the media to tell the truth about drugs?" on Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Somerville College, Oxford

Howard Marks Interviews David Nutt On The Dangers of Drugs & Drug Policy Reform

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