The sleeping pills in question are those that contain the drug zolpiderm, which includes Ambien, Edluar, Zolpomist and other generic medications. In sum, those drugs are the most-prescribed sleeping aid in Pittsburgh and the U.S. as a whole, so it is possible that reducing the dosages could have a significant effect on car accident rates here and throughout the country.

Currently, the maximum dosage for women is 10 milligrams, or 12.5 milligrams for extended-release formulations of the drugs. Under the new regulations, the maximum dosages will be cut in half to 5 and 6.25 milligrams, respectively.

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The creation of the new regulation was spurred by recent research conducted by the FDA. One study, for example, found that 33 percent of women and 25 percent of men who took extended-release forms of zolpiderm had enough of the drug in their system 8 hours after taking the drug to significantly interfere with their driving ability. But when the study participants’ dosage was cut in half, just 15 percent of women and 5 percent of men had the same drug levels in their system after 8 hours.

With more than 700 reports of zolpiderm-related driving issues in recent years, it is clear that a change is needed. Hopefully, the new regulation will be effective at preventing car accidents, injuries and fatalities.

Source:, “FDA requires lower doses for sleep medications,” Matthew Perrone, Jan. 10, 2013

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