Studying the ways drugs affect cognition and motor skills has always been costly. But thanks to innovations from Cognitive Research Corp.—specifically, a driving simulator widely regarded as the most realistic of its kind—that process is becoming more efficient and affordable. A niche company that focuses on driving, CRC has developed technologies that can tell whether a drug impairs or improves cognitive function. "It is critically important that prescribers and consumers recognize that drugs, even OTC drugs, can impair their ability to drive, whether or not they feel drowsy," Kay says.
Sometimes the interactions are unexpected. The company recently asked test subjects to drink two glasses of wine a day after they took a standard dose of an OTC cold medication. "While that's a legal amount of alcohol, we found they were really impaired," Kay reports. Of course, social pressures have sparked change, too. "It took us a long time to become aware of the risks of alcohol and driving, and now we are realizing the effects of medications on driving safety. Consumers are demanding that these studies be conducted." —Sarah Mahoney