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20-09-2012 | Mental health | Article

Don’t take psychoactive drugs and drive


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medwireNews: Taking benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and Z-drugs significantly increases the risk for a motor vehicle accident (MVA), report Taiwanese researchers.

The increased risk was significant whether the individual had been taking the drug for 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month prior to the accident, writes the team in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

No such association between antipsychotic medication and MVAs was seen, however.

"Our findings underscore that people taking these psychotropic drugs should pay increased attention to their driving performance in order to prevent MVAs," commented Hui-Ju Tsai (National Health Research Institutes, Zhunan Town, Miaoli County) to the press.

"Doctors and pharmacists should choose safer treatments, provide their patients with accurate information and consider advising them not to drive while taking certain psychotropic medications," he added.

The results emerge from 9 years' of national data on 5183 adult individuals who had had a MVA (patients), and 31,093 individuals matched for age, gender, and patients' year of MVA (controls).

Patients were significantly more likely to live in suburban areas, have more psychiatric and nonpsychiatric outpatient visits, and have higher Charlson comorbidity scores than controls. Following adjustment for these factors, the risk for MVAs was significantly increased in those who took antidepressants within 1 month of the MVA, at an adjusted odds ratio (AOR) of 1.73.

Similar patterns were observed for patients who took antidepressants within 1 week and 1 day of an MVA, with AORs of 1.71 and 1.70, respectively, report the researchers.

There was no difference according to type of antidepressant (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic, or other), however; a dose of more than or equal to 0.6 defined daily dose (based on medication dosage, prescription date, and duration of supply), significantly increased the MVA risk compared with no exposure, report the researchers.

Use of benzodiazepines also significantly increased the risk for MVA if taken 1 month, 1 week, or 1 day before the MVA, with AORs of 1.56, 1.64, and 1.62, respectively, and these associations remained after Tsai et al adjusted for long- versus short-acting, and anxiolytic versus hypnotic benzodiazepines.

No associations between antipsychotics (typical and atypical) and MVAs emerged, however; use of Z-drugs (zolpidem, zopiclone, and zaleplon) 1 day, 1 week, and 1 month significantly increased the risk for MVA, by 1.42-, 1.37-, and 1.34-fold, respectively.

Future studies into the relationship between antipsychotics and MVAs would be of interest, suggest Tsai and colleagues.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Sarah Guy, medwireNews Reporter

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