Decreasing consumption: many medicine users stop their treatment, and the medicine is used for a shorter period of time – as recommended.
A long-term use of sleeping medicine and anti-anxiety drugs of the benzodiazepine type should be avoided, as it can lead to addiction, dizziness, memory impairment and concentration difficulties, as well as an increased risk of falling. Through the years, many political health care initiatives have therefore been launched in order to reduce the consumption of these medicines.
The efforts to reduce the consumption of benzodiazepines were intensified in the second half of 2008. The National Board of Health published some new guidelines on the prescription of addictive medicines, the Institute for Rational Pharmacotherapy published new material with advice for doctors, people working at general practices, medicine users and relatives, and moreover, several of the Danish regions launched special campaigns.
The intensive efforts appear to have been effective. The total consumption of benzodiazepines sold on prescription to individuals has fallen with nearly 9 per cent from 2007 to 2008. In comparison, the total decrease in the three years from 2004 to 2007 was 12 per cent. The number of long-term users accounts for a smaller share of the users, and there has been an increasing share of short-term users who only buy the quantities recommended by the National Board of Health and the Institute for Rational Pharmacotherapy. The main part of the benzodiazepine users who cease their benzodiazepine treatment do not begin another treatment with medicine for the nervous system.
The consumption of benzodiazepines varies greatly in the different Danish regions. The Central Denmark Region, and especially the former Ringkøbing County, has made a large effort through several years, and here the consumption is somewhat lower than in the other regions.
The new rules on the issuance, renewal and re-acquisition of driving license for users of benzodiazepines already appear to have had an effect on the consumption. However, the full effect is not expected to be evident until the end of 2009, when all driving license applications under the transitional scheme have been processed. The consumption of the types of medicine entailing limitations of the driving license has decreased markedly compared to the types of medicine that are permissible with or without a time limitation.
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