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Drugs SIG

SIG Vision and Aims

The Drugs SIG unites public health specialists and academics in collaboration with cross-agency partners to advocate for drug policies, practice, and service delivery that will advance public health and human rights.

The SIG aims to:

  1. Expand the network of public health, medical and third sector organisations who share our vision for public health and human rights focused drug policies.
  2. Increase collaboration with groups with lived experience of drug use and dependence.
  3. Leading up to the next General Election, work with these partners to influence political party manifestos to adopt public health and human rights focused approaches.
  4. Continue reactively responding to national consultations and presenting at events to influence drug policy formulation and delivery.
  5. Build on proactive projects to promote evidence-based harm reduction interventions, public health and human rights orientated drug policies, and efforts to improve healthcare provision for people who use drugs.
  6. Collaborate with research partners to build the evidence base for interventions and policy approaches to reduce drug and drug policy-related harm.

The Drugs Special Interest Group is chaired by Adam Holland and Dean Connolly and reports to the FPH Health Services Committee

Join the Drugs SIG

FPH members can join this SIG by logging into their FPH members’ portal account, selecting the ‘Committees/SIGs’ button and choosing the correct SIG. You will then be asked to provide a few details, following which your application will be automatically approved. Further details on FPH membership are available here.

Recent Drugs SIG outputs

  • Comment in the Lancet Public Health about the proliferation of nitazenes in the UK drug market.
  • Evaluation of the UK Drugs Strategy published in the Journal of Public Health.
  • Cross-agency letter advocating for amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 to make it easier to pilot overdose prevention centres in the UK (co-organised by Drug Science) as featured in the BMJ.
  • Comment in the Lancet Public Health discussing the arguments posed against overdose prevention centres.
  • Cross-agency letter advocating for overdose prevention centre pilots in the UK, as featured in the Guardian and the BMJ.

FPH statements about drugs and drug policies

  • FPH and ADPH response to the Home Affairs Select Committee on Drugs 2023.
  • FPH response to calls from the Scottish Government for a public health approach to drugs.
  • FPH Policy Brief On Drugs, presented at the political party conferences in 2023.
  • The Taking a New Line on Drugs report from the Royal Society for Public Health and FPH, which makes the case for drug policy reform.

FPH responses to calls for evidence / consultations

Related publications and resources

  • Editorial in the BMJ discussing the arguments and evidence for “safer supply” alternatives to unregulated drug markets, co-authored by members of the FPH Drugs SIG.
  • Blog about the emergency of nitazenes on the UK drug market co-authored by FPH Drugs SIG Co-Chair Adam Holland.
  • Review of evidence on overdose prevention centres summarising 570 articles, led by FPH Drugs SIG member Dr Gillian W Shorter.
  • Comment in the International Journal of Drug Policy exploring the ethical dimensions of coercive drug policies, co-authored by members of the FPH Drugs SIG.
  • Op-ed in the Daily Record written by Drugs SIG Co-Chair Adam Holland about the Scottish Government’s calls for a public health approach to drugs.
  • Comment on the Swift Certain Tough White Paper published in the Pharmaceutical Journal co-written by Drugs SIG Co-Chair Adam Holland and pharmacy colleagues.
  • Cross-agency letter organised by Transform Drug Policy and Release, highlighting issues with the Swift Certain Tough White Paper, which was supported by FPH.
  • Proof-of-concept evaluation of the United Kingdom’s first unsanctioned overdose prevention site co-authored by FPH Drugs SIG member Dr Gillian W Shorter.

Webinar recordings

SIG Workplan

Activity: Increase capacity of Drugs SIG to do proactive work.


  • One or two StRs doing placement with SIG to deliver work plan.
  • Potential additional capacity from MSc students, medical students.
  • Nominate key experts for honorary membership of FPH.
  • More officer positions.
  • Increased membership – including greater representation from people of colour.
  • Update drug SIG website.
  • Explore partner organisation representation.

Target date: 

  • StRs in place by August.
  • FPH hon membership nominations Jan

Named lead: Co-chairs

Progress to date: None.


  • Advertised StR placements.
  • Recruitment drive via FPH bulletin / Twitter.

Activity: Proactive response to emerging issues.


  • Ongoing responses to consultations / news developments / requests for presentations.
  • APPG presentation on nitazenes April ’24.

Target date: Ongoing

Named lead: All

Progress to date: Ongoing

Outputs: N/A

Activity: Finalise position paper.

Outcome: Position paper establishing FPH position on drugs control endorsed by FPH Board.

Target date: June 2024

Named lead: Adam Holland

Progress to date: Preliminary paper presented to board – draft paper written.

Outputs: Paper presented and signed off by Board.

Activity: Series of webinars.

Outcome: Talks every 2 months – on nitazenes, chemsex, other potential foci (see below).

Target date: First talk August 2024

Named lead: All

Progress to date:Initial discussions with ADPH / OHID / ESUCG.

Outputs: 2-monthly webinars.

Activity: Survey of LGBTQ+ service commissioning practices and services.

Outcome: Report / academic publication.

Target date: December 2025

Named lead: Dean Connolly 

Progress to date: Project team established with member from ACMD.

Outputs: Report/academic publication.

Activity: Increase involvement of people with lived and living experience of drug use. 

Outcome: Membership of SIG from individuals with lived / living experience.

Target date: Ongoing.

Named lead: All.

Progress to date: Engagement with living / lived experience groups.

Outputs: Members on FPH Drugs SIG.

Activity: Proactive project work in collaboration with other FPH SIGs and external organisations.

Outcome: Foci to be defined by SIG capacity and specific member interest (potential outputs include webinars, reports, advocacy materials, and academic publications). Potential projects:

  • Advocacy work with political parties to influence manifestos.
  • Briefing on nitazenes and necessary public health responses.
  • Commentary about importance of lived / living experience.
  • Drug policy and climate – impacts and responses.
  • Exploring data collection requirements for needle and syringe programmes.
  • Harm reduction for health professionals in the UK.
  • HNA for people involved in the drug trade.
  • Promoting PrEP uptake.
  • Research priorities exercise.
  • Stigma awareness and combatting.
  • Women, pregnancy, and drug use – webinar or short report.

Target date: Ongoing.

Named lead: All.

Progress to date: None – projects to be determined with members.

Outputs: To be confirmed. 

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