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Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2006 Feb 23;126(5):589-90.

[Changes in the sale and use of flunitrazepam in Norway after 1999].

[Article in Norwegian]

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  • 1Avdeling for legemiddelepidemiologi, Divisjon for epidemiologi, Nasjonalt folkehelseinstitutt, Postboks 4404 Nydalen, 0403 Oslo.



In Norway there has in later years been much discussion of misuse of flunitrazepam. From 1 January 2003 the drug was moved up one level in the schedule of controlled substances. On 1 August 2004 the manufacturer of the Rohypnol brand withdrew it from the Norwegian market. How did these two events influence the sales and use of drugs containing flunitrazepam?


Sales figures for drugs containing flunitrazepam from the statistics database at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health were studied. The Norwegian prescription database was used to describe new (incident) users of flunitrazepam and the two brands of this drug sold in Norway in 2004.


Restrictions on the prescription status of flunitrazepam lead to a decrease in sales from 7.2 defined daily doses (DDD) per 1000 inhabitants per day in 2002 to 3.0 DDD per 1000 inhabitants per day in 2003. This decrease was only partly compensated for by an increase in the sales of nitrazepam (from 5.0 to 6.0 DDD per 1000 inhabitants per day). During the years 1999 to 2004 there was a steady increase in the sales of benzodiazepine-related hypnotics (zopiclone and zolpidem). This shift could mean a change from flunitrazepam to zopiclone. The withdrawal of Rohypnol in August 2004 had only minor effects on the total sales of flunitrazepam. The decline in sales of Rohypnol was almost compensated for by the increase in the overall sales of Flunipam. This was reflected in the fact that in the later months of 2004 there were many new (incident) users of Flunipam, but few new users of flunitrazepam-containing drugs in total. It could be concluded that the restrictions on prescription status of flunitrazepam had a much higher impact than the withdrawal of the Rohypnol brand.

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