HC Deb 14 December 1998 vol 322 c332W
Mr. David Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what research the Government have evaluated into driving whilst prescribed(a) anxiolytic benzodiazepines and (b) the sleeping tablet Zopiclone. [62682]

Ms Glenda Jackson

I have been asked to reply.

The Government have not commissioned specific research about the drugs mentioned, but a full evaluation of relevant research is being undertaken by the Medicines Control Agency.

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions is presently conducting a three-year survey, which started in October 1996, into the incidence of drugs (legal or illegal) in fatal road accident victims. A report on interim results to 7 January 1998 was published on 11 February 1998. My written answer of that date, Official Report, column 306, explained that a copy was being placed in the Library.

This survey will not provide evidence of accident causation but it will help to establish the extent of drug use among road users. The interim results show that medicinal drugs were present in some 6 per cent. of road accident fatalities (drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists).

Mr. David Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what measures the Government have taken to encourage GPs to issue warnings concerning the danger of driving when using(a) Valium, (b) Librium, (c) Ativan and (d) other types of tranquilliser. [62683]

Mr. Galbraith

Where there is the possibility that certain medicinal products may cause deterioration of the skills required for driving, the product information provided to doctors and pharmacists recommends that patients should be warned that they may suffer side-effects which may impair their ability to drive. Although these side-effects may wear off, the patient should ensure that they are not affected before driving.

In addition, the British National Formulary (BNF), which provides doctors, pharmacists and other health-care professionals with sound up-to-date information about the use of medicines, advises prescribers to warn patients if treatment is likely to affect their ability to drive. It also recommends that pharmacists provide cautionary and advisory labels with certain medicinal products.

The Medicines Control Agency is aware of public concern that the side-effects of some medicines may be causing road traffic accidents. In response to recent publications they are currently reviewing all available evidence to determine whether there may be a case for strengthening product information, ensuring that Patient Information Leaflets and packaging are updated if necessary.

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