Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Death of David Kelly - A brief report in the Daily Mail on my pharmacokinetic concerns

On Saturday, the Daily Mail had a brief piece on my concerns regarding the evidence that David Kelly had taken a significant overdose of co-proxamol.

The Daily Mail article is here: Kelly's death 'was NOT caused by an overdose': Drugs expert dismisses theory on weapons inspector.

At the risk of stating the obvious, only co-proxamol that is absorbed into the body is capable of causing toxicity. There is no suggestion that Dr. Kelly choked on or inhaled whole co-proxamol tablets - that could be fatal but it is not "toxicity".

I find it surprising that Dr. Allan and Dr. Hunt made, so it seems, no serious effort to use simple pharmacokinetic techniques to estimate how much co-proxamol had been absorbed into Dr. Kelly's body.

They didn't know how many, if any, co-proxamol tablets were in the blister packs of co-proxamol said to have been discovered in a pocket of Dr. Kelly's Barbour jacket.

So they couldn't be sure of how much co-proxamol was available to Dr. Kelly and how much might have entered Dr. Kelly's body.

If you don't know the dose or time of dosing there is all the more need to carry out a thorough range of toxicology measurements to estimate how much dextropropoxyphene and its metabolites are present in the body.

So far as I can trace, Dr. Allan made a single blood concentration measurement of dextropropoxyphene only and made no quantitative measurements of metabolites of dextropropoxyphene in the blood.

If you have already assumed overdose and suicide then such incomplete analyses make some sense. You are carrying out analyses to confirm your pre-existing prejudices.

If you are attempting to carry out a competent and professional assessment of a suspicious death the incomplete toxicology makes no sense at all.

As with so much relating to the Hutton Inquiry, basic questions appear not to have been asked.

By failing to ask relevant and necessary questions, Dr Hunt and Dr Allan arrive at conclusions which are highly questionable.

In the near future, I intend to post a more complete account of the simple pharmacokinetic modelling I carried out to estimate the amount of co-proxamol in Dr. Kelly's body.


  1. I was interested to read your piece on the mail on line but very disappointed that after just 18 comments on Saturday, spanning only 8 hours, the mail on line decided not to accept any more. Mr Paul Dacre, Editor of the Mail, is I note a follower of this blog and I hope that he realises my concern that comments ceased to be accepted after such a short period.

  2. Brian,

    I'm afraid I've no idea how the Daily Mail decides on when to close comments on an article.

    Equally, I don't "know" that the Paul Dacre who is a longtime follower of this blog is "the" Paul Dacre.