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Are Your Sleeping Pills Increasing Your Risk of Drowsy Driving?

According to the New York Times, each year in the United States around 60 million prescriptions for sleep aids are filled. Sleep aids are taken by men and women of all ages and are intended to help people suffering from insomnia and other sleep problems to get a good night's rest.

Recently, however, the FDA has expressed concerns about some of the most popular prescription sleep aids. Our Atlanta, GA personal injury lawyers want to make sure that everyone who takes a prescription sleeping pill is aware of the FDA's new recommendations so they can stay safe.

The FDA's Recommendations on Prescription Sleep Aids

The FDA specifically targeted one of the most popular sleep aids on the market: Ambien. Other versions of the drug also include Zolpimist, Edluar and generic versions. The FDA issued a release on January 10th warning that these popular medications might be staying in the body longer than anticipated.

The problem is specific to women, according to the FDA's release. The issue is that women's bodies are not processing and removing the Ambien as quickly as expected. As a result, women may be very groggy the next morning. This can interfere with their ability to drive safely on their commute to work and, in some cases, could interfere with their ability to perform their job safely.

To address this problem, the FDA has mandated lower doses of the drug in all prescriptions to women. For those women who were previously prescribed 10 milligram doses of Ambien or related drugs, the new recommendation is that they be prescribed only 5 milligram doses. Women who were previously prescribed the extended release doses, which contained 12.5 mg, will be prescribed extended release pills that contain only 6.25 mg.

By lowering the active dose of sleep medication, the hope is that women will be able to safely excrete the drug from their body before morning. This will allow them to get the good night's sleep that Ambien is supposed to provide but without putting them at risk of becoming involved in an auto accident the next morning due to still being drowsy from the drugs.

The FDA did not change the mandated dosage of Ambien for men, who process the drug differently. However, in the news release, the government did urge everyone to take the lowest possible dose of sleeping pills that is necessary to be effective. The FDA further reiterated that Ambien and related sleep medications do contain warnings that they can cause fatigue.

Anyone who is taking Ambien or other sleep medications should be aware of the risk that can come from driving while groggy or impaired by a sleeping pill. As the Huffington Post points out, several recent high profile accidents have occurred when people were on prescription sleep medications, including a crash involving Tom Brokaw and one involving Kerry Kennedy. Anyone is at risk of becoming involved in a crash while they are affected by sleep medications and drivers who are too tired or impaired to drive safely put themselves and everyone else on the road with them in danger.

If you have been injured in an Atlanta car accident, contact Gary Martin Hays & Associates at 1-800-898-HAYS.