The National Transportation
Safety Board (NTSB) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are scheduled
to co-host a meeting Nov. 14 and 15 examining the impact of prescription and
over-the-counter medications on the performance and ability of vehicle operators.
Meeting attendance is open to the public and advance registration is not necessary.
Many widely used prescription
and over-the-counter medications have long been known to cause drowsiness
and/or impairment in users. In most cases, however, there is little guidance
provided in laws, rules, instructions or labeling, to help people determine
what medications could affect their ability to drive, fly, or operate a train
or ship. Studies suggest, as with alcohol, an individual's perception of their
level of impairment is not a good indicator of their actual impairment.
Since 1987 the Safety
Board has investigated more than 150 accidents, in all modes of transportation,
involving vehicle operators who may have been impaired by prescription or
over-the-counter medications. Recent accidents attributed in part to the use
of legal medications include a June 1998 Greyhound bus crash in Burnt Cabins,
PA, that killed six people. Toxicological testing revealed that the driver
had recently taken an over-the-counter medication. NTSB determined that the
use of medications was one of the factors in the accident.
This joint meeting is
in response to recommendations the Safety Board made to the FDA on this subject
in January 2000 asking that the FDA require the use of a clear and consistent
warning label for all medications. Additional recommendations were also made
to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Federal Aviation Administration,
Federal Transit Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Administration and the United States Coast Guard.
The joint meeting will
be held in the NTSB Board Room/Conference Center, convening at 8:00 a.m. each
day. More information about the meeting is available on the Safety Board's
web site at www.ntsb.gov. Click on the "FDA/NTSB Joint Public Meeting
" link. The meeting place is located at 429 L'Enfant Plaza, Washington,