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    General practice pharmacist scheme evaluation indicates ‘improved capacity’ as the main benefit

    Tuesday, 31 July 2018 15:31
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Umesh Modi is a chartered accountant, and Pamini Jatheeskumar is a chartered certified accountant at Silver Levene...
  Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead...
Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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drug drivingMarch 2 2015

New legislation comes into force today regarding driving a vehicle while taking certain controlled drugs whether prescribed or illicitly.

Pharmacists and GPs are being asked to raise awareness of the new regulations with patients. The law now sets a maximum blood concentration for eight prescribed drugs, above which the driver could be prosecuted, even if the driver is not impaired by the drugs.

Prescribed medicines included in the legislation are:

•    clonazepam
•    diazepam
•    flunitrazepam
•    lorazepam
•    methadone
•    morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs
•    oxazepam
•    temazepam

Among the eight illicit drugs also specified within the regulations are cannabinoids, ketamine and cocaine, for which much lower blood levels will be tolerated.

‘Virtual pharmacy chain’ Numark has issued guidance for its members. Michael Stewart, Numark’s information pharmacist, commented: “There’s been quite a lot of publicity about the new law and you should expect patients to have questions when buying over the counter preparations as well as collecting prescriptions.

“The role of the pharmacy team is to advise patients when there is a risk their driving may be affected. Provided the controlled drug has been prescribed and taken as directed, a statutory medical defence exists. However, this defence does not apply if the person’s driving has been impaired by use of the drug.

“It is always the driver’s responsibility to decide whether their driving is or may be impaired. However, patients should always be made aware of the risks when supplied with any drug with the potential to affect their ability to drive.”

Numark is advising pharmacists to make the wider pharmacy team aware of the legislation and also to review the Department of Transport’s document for healthcare professionals about the new law.

Its tips for what to advise patients include:

•    Do not drive if you experience any symptoms that suggest driving may be impaired such as sleepiness, poor co-ordination, slowed thinking, visual problems, dizziness or drowsiness.
•    Be extra vigilant when first starting a new medicine or when increasing or reducing the dose.
•    Be aware that alcohol will increase the risk of accidents when taken in combination with other drugs that can impair the ability to drive.
•    Certain circumstances will increase the risk of driving being impaired, and can include other medicines (prescribed or OTC) that can impair driving, or any developing medical conditions that could increase the risk of side effects associated with impaired driving ability, such as significant weight loss, increasing age or starting a new medicine that can affect the metabolism of the existing medicine.

 
Links:

Department for Transport advice for drivers    

Numark    

Drug Driving legislation    

Today’s Pharmacist - previous coverage     

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