Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) to Evaluate Drug-Related Outcomes By Prof David Nutt

Posted on: June 8, 2019
Last Updated: September 22, 2020

David Nutt is currently the Edmond J. Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Brain Sciences. In addition to several prestigious appointments in the past, David is currently Chair of DrugScience (formally the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) and President of the European Brain Council. He has edited the Journal of Psychopharmacology for over two decades and acts as the psychiatry drugs advisor to the British National Formulary. David  broadcasts widely to the general public both on radio and television including BBC science and public affairs programs on therapeutic as well as illicit drugs, their harms and their classification.  He has published over 400 original research papers, a similar number of reviews and book chapters, eight government reports on drugs and 27 books.

Author Quotes: 

Drug specific mortality – the likelihood of a drug killing you any time you use a drugdrug related damage – the damage that using a drug might do because of the way you use itchronic use of tobacco and alcohol eventually can destroy organs in the body and lead to death.

Smoking tobacco influences so many different systems that it’s a major factor in cardiovascular death and lung death and also cancer.

Summary and slides: 

Professor Nutt continues his talk by discussing MRC and the Home Office contributions to a conference to begin the process of using the MCDA to assess drug harms. 

He goes on to explain the methodology of the conference and how each variable was defined. 

Data were presented on deaths in the UK, showing that tobacco is the largest killer. 

He then presents research done by L King (2006) (Home Office) on drug-specific mortality.

Professor Nutt goes on to explain that drugrelated mortality is the likelihood of dying as a result of using the drug, and how the drug damages the body. 

He explains that tobacco is the leading cause of self-inflicted death in the world because smoking tobacco influences so many different systems.

However, alcohol for young people is becoming the leading cause of death in Britain. 

Professor Nutt concludes this segment by presenting estimates of how much alcohol is consumed in the different countries in the world, the effect on mental impairment of users, and the social cost. 

Take-home Points: 

  • Using the MCDA methodology, 16 criteria of harms of drugs were found; harm to self and harm to society. 
  • Tobacco is the leading cause of self-inflicted death in the world. 
  • Alcohol is becoming the leading cause of death for men under 50 in Britain. 


Learn more

  1. Illegal Drugs and the Analysis of Harms By Prof David Nutt
  2. MCDA data analysis to inform drug policy by Prof David Nutt
  3. Post-Multicriteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) analysis of drug-related harms – Prof David Nutt
  4. Psychedelic therapy and synthetic alcohol – future treatments? – Prof David Nutt
  5. Alcohol – New Therapeutic Approaches and the Burden of Harm – Prof David Nutt