Over-the-counter medicines and the potential for unwanted sleepiness in drivers: A review

  • Published: Department for Transport, Road Safety Research Report (No.24) (2001)
  • Authors: P. Barrett and J.A. Horne
  • Date Added: 22 Dec 2013
  • Last Update: 22 Dec 2013
  • Format: html


To identify medicines available over the counter (OTC) that have the potential to cause drowsiness, and therefore potential to be hazardous to drivers and other road users.


  • Review of medicines individually.

Key Findings

  • A total of 102 medicines were identified with the potential to cause sedation.

  • The labelling of the medicines warning the consumer of potentially sedative effects was not consistent.

  • Several medicines that were recommended by the British National Formulary (BNF) to have labelling had none on the packaging.

  • Even within classes of medicines there appeared to be no labelling consistency. Several mentioned drowsiness as a side effect on the package insert, but no mention of this was made on the exterior packaging.


Over-the-counter medicines, sleepiness, drivers


Literature review