Codeine use and accident risk

Mar 24, 2009

The risk of being involved in a traffic accident with personal injury is significantly higher among codeine users than non-users. However, sporadic or moderate use of codeine alone does not carry an increased risk, according to a newly published study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Codeine and tramadol are painkillers in the opiate group, used for mild to moderate pain. In Norway, is included in Paralgin forte and Pinex forte, and tramadol, amongst others, in Nobligan. Norway has a higher consumption of codeine preparations than other European countries.

Earlier studies have given conflicting results when evaluating risk linked to the use of codeine and tramadol. In this new study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, anonymised data from the Norwegian Prescription Database and Accident Register was used to study whether codeine- or tramadol users have an increased risk of being involved in a traffic accident with .

During the 33 months of the study, 181 road traffic accidents were registered with personal injury where the driver had been exposed to codeine and 20 after exposure to tramadol. "Exposure" is defined as the first 7 days after the dispensing of a prescription for a codeine- or tramadol preparation.

The study showed that the risk of being involved in a road traffic accident with personal injury was twice as high in the period after having a prescription for codeine dispensed. For those who had used more than approximately 400 tablets per year, the risk of being involved in a traffic accident was 3 times as large. When the use of other potential impairing medicines was excluded, the risk of accident sank significantly. For sporadic codeine users there was no increased risk of accident. There was not a significantly higher risk for tramadol.

- We have previously seen that large users of codeine preparations often use benzodiazepines (anxiolytics- and ) or carisoprodol (muscle relaxants /painkillers) in addition. This is an important contributory factor when evaluating the accident risk, says the study's leader Liliana Bachs.

98 of the 181 drivers exposed to codeine who were included in the study had also been dispensed other medicines with abuse potential in the week prior to the accident.

- One can conclude that sporadic or moderate use of codeine alone to a small degree increases the chance of being involved in accidents with personal injury. Simultaneous use of benzodiazepines or carisoprodol gives a clear increase in the risk of accidents, explains Bachs.

More information:

Reference:

The Risk of Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Drivers With Prescriptions for Codeine or Tramadol. Bachs L, Engeland A, Mørland J, Skurtveit S. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Mar 11. [Epub ahead of print]

Related reference: Repeated dispensing of codeine is associated with high consumption of benzodiazepines. Bachs LC, Bramness JG, Engeland A, Skurtveit S. Norsk Epidemiologi 2008; 18 (2): 185-190 (in English).

Source: Norwegian Institute of Public Health

Explore further: Electronic health records tied to shorter time in ER

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Codeine not safe for all breastfeeding moms and their babies

Aug 20, 2008

Using pain treatments which contain codeine may be risky for some breastfeeding mothers, according to researchers at The University of Western Ontario, and the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto. Lead author ...

Study to make public roads safer for farmers, drivers

Nov 18, 2008

Population growth and significant increases in development across the country are leading to changes in traffic and driving behavior in many areas where motorists share the road with farmers moving their equipment – changes ...

Speed cameras do reduce accidents, say researchers

Sep 12, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists at the University of Liverpool have developed an accident prediction model which proves that speed cameras are effective in reducing the number of road traffic accidents by 20 per cent.

Study: Age, sex affect traffic accidents

Jan 03, 2007

Understanding the differences among U.S. drivers of different sexes and various ages is critical to preventing serious injuries, researchers said.

Men More Prone to Maladies When Mad

Feb 03, 2006

If you're a male who has trouble controlling your temper, you might find yourself in the hospital the next time you get angry. After interviewing people who had been seriously injured, a University of Missouri-Columbia researcher ...

Recommended for you

Electronic health records tied to shorter time in ER

Sep 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—Length of emergency room stay for trauma patients is shorter with the use of electronic health records, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

CDC: Almost everyone needs a flu shot

Sep 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—Less than half of all Americans got a flu shot last year, so U.S. health officials on Thursday urged that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated for the coming flu season. "It's really unfortunate ...

User comments : 0