A drug used in common painkillers has been linked to an increased risk of fatal car crashes.
Research shows motorists killed in accidents were more likely to have been driving dangerously after taking codeine, a morphine-like medicine used in well-known brands such as Solpadeine and Nurofen Plus.
The study suggests the painkiller can make drivers sleepy, slower to react to danger and more likely to make mistakes. On its own, codeine is available only on prescription, but is also used in low doses with paracetamol in products such as Solpadeine, or with ibuprofen in Nurofen Plus, which can be bought over the counter at pharmacies. Around 27million packets of painkillers containing codeine are sold every year in the UK.
The drug is a mild opiate, which puts it in the same class as morphine and methadone, the heroin substitute given to drug addicts. For the latest research, scientists at Lakehead University and Northern Ontario School of Medicine in Canada, analysed the details of thousands of U.S. road deaths since 1975.