Aim: To analyse the consumption of a number of medicines with a known potential for increasing the risk of road traffic accidents in the general population of Europe.
Methods: Questionnaires were distributed through the European Drug Utilization Research Group (EuroDURG) and Post-Innovation Learning through Life-events of drugs (PILLS) networks. A total of 30 countries (the current EU Member States, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) were asked to supply data on the use of driving impairing medicines for the period 2000-2005, aggregated at the level of the active substance and presented in Defined Daily Doses (DDDs) per 1000 inhabitants per day.
Results: National utilization data were provided by 12 of the 30 countries. Based on these data, a considerable increase in consumption was only seen for the antidepressants and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. A slight increase, decrease or no increase was seen for the rest of the drugs studied (i.e. opioids, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, hypnotics and sedatives, drugs that are used in addictive disorders and antihistamines). Limitations were encountered when data on driving impairing medicines were compared between countries (e.g. variation in the data sources and providers, population coverage, inclusion of hospital data, use of divergent ATC/DDD versions) and, therefore, a cross-national comparison could not be performed.
Conclusions: During the study period, trends within countries showed slight to no increase in the consumption of selected medicinal drug groups, with the exception of the antidepressants and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: they showed a remarkable increased use during the study time-frame. Our results illustrate that it is still difficult to perform a valid and comprehensive collection of drug utilization data on driving impairing medicines. Therefore, efforts to harmonize data collection techniques are required and recommended.