Headache pills increase chance of car crash, says study

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Next time you take a headache tablet, take care on the roads. New research reveals that taking everyday drugs such as ibuprofen can increase the chances of a car crash by 50 per cent.

Other pills are even worse. Researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health matched prescription drug use with road accidents among about three million people. They looked at seven groups of commonly prescribed drugs including natural opium alkaloids such as codeine and morphine, benzodiazepine tranquillisers, anti-asthmatic drugs and penicillin.

During the research period, 79 per cent of the men and women had drugs on prescription. Among those involved in an accident as driver, 82 per cent had drugs on prescription. One theory is that some of the drugs may have a detrimental effect on the central nervous system.

"Further studies are needed to clarify a possible important central nervous system effect of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Nsaids, which include ibuprofen) on driving ability," say the researchers, whose study is based on 13,000 car accidents involving personal injury.

Those on prescription drugs had a 40 per cent increased risk. The risk was threefold for users of tranquillisers, 3.3 times for hypnotic benzodiazepines, and double for users of natural opium alkaloids. Smaller increases were found for Nsaids and asthmatics of up to 50 per cent, and for penicillin, 10 per cent.

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