Withdrawal of triazolam's product licence: effect on patients 18 months later


Michael King.


The product licences for triazolam in Britain were suspended in October 1991. We aimed to determine whether the sudden withdrawal of a benzodiazepine from the market constitutes a major impetus for patients to reduce or stop their benzodiazepine consumption. Patients in 10 London general practices who were prescribed triazolam in the 12 months prior to the withdrawal of its licence were interviewed. Data from written and computerized general practice records were also studied. One hundred and forty-seven patients were identified, of whom 107 (73%) were interviewed; 38 were chronic users; 68 patients had a history of serious physical illness while 33 had a history of psychiatric problems; 45% of chronic and 66% of intermittent triazolam users had stopped receiving prescriptions for benzodiazepines from 6 months after the withdrawal of triazolam's licence up to 18 months later. Only 12 (11%) recalled suffering significant withdrawal effects. We conclude that official action to curb prescribing of a benzodiazepine acts as an important stimulus for patients to reduce or stop their use of all psychotropic medication without increasing psychological morbidity or leading to unacceptable side effects.