Tidsskrift for den Norske laegeforening : tidsskrift for praktisk medicin, ny raekke

[Dispensing of benzodiazepines and Z drugs by Norwegian pharmacies 2004-2011].

PMID 24172627


In Norway, total sales of benzodiazepines and Z drugs (zopiclone and zolpidem) have increased since the mid-1990s. On the basis of data from the Norwegian Prescription Database, we have studied the choice of medications and patterns of use in various gender and age groups. Numbers for redemptions of benzodiazepines and Z drugs in Norwegian pharmacies for the years 2004-2011 were collected from the Prescription Registry. Population figures were collected from Statistics Norway. Consumption was calculated by the number of DDDs (defined daily doses). Among those who were supplied with benzodiazepines or Z drugs, recipients of more than 2 DDDs per day (heavy users) accounted for a small group. We registered an extensive use of Z drugs among older women, many of whom were prescribed an amount corresponding to a regular daily use of 1-2 DDDs. The total prescription of alprazolam and nitrazepam/flunitrazepam was minor, but high dosages were not uncommon among those who were prescribed these drugs. Only a small proportion of the patients who were prescribed clonazepam received a reimbursable prescription. The prescribing of a number of benzodiazepines and Z drugs at the same time remains not uncommon. Prescribing of Z drugs to the elderly, and to women in particular, may indicate that many people in this group are regular users of sedative hypnotics, which is contrary to the guidelines. A considerable proportion of the prescriptions for clonazepam are outside of the approved indications. Among the users of the drugs studied, only a small fraction were heavy users, but since the use is widespread, this represents a considerable number of individuals.