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Risk of prescription drugs on driving ability highlighted in report
Medical studies conclude that long term use of prescribed psychotropic medication is linked to higher probability of being involved in road traffic accidents.
The research was undertaken earlier this year by scientists in Taiwan and published in September in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. They compared prescription drug usage patterns between people involved in accidents and those who had not been involved in incidents on the road. The conclusion was that the probability of having an accident was increased with the use of psychotropic drugs. Probability was also affected by dosage and the length of time that the medicine was being used.
The link between certain types of medicine such as benzodiazepines, which are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, had already been well established but this study extended the danger net to encompass other medicines that have a similar psychotropic effect, that is an effect which alters perception, cognition or behaviour. These additional medicines include anti-depressants such as Prozac and Zoloft and so called Z-Drugs used predominantly to treat insomnia.
With the list of prescription medicines which cause driving impairment increasing and with detection and enforcement measures still lacking in scientific precision, there are greater calls being made for the pharmaceuticals industry and medical practicioners to provide clearer information on the effects of the drugs.
Manufacturers are being asked to provide clearer labelling to indicate that the medicine might cause driving impairment. Doctors are also being asked to make the effects of the medicine clear to the user and inform them that they should avoid driving while using them.
The US legal industry has indicated that manufacturers could face claims for compensation from those affected by the medicine who are subsequently involved in a accident if labels aren’t sufficiently clear.