BY BOB HOLT
Sleeping medications that are actually too effective are causing the Food and Drug Administration to require manufacturers to cut back their dosages, mainly for women.
Studies have found that people taking certain medications were affected into the next day, and put at increased risk while driving to work.
The Washington Post reported that about 15 percent of women and three percent of men were still impaired eight hours after taking a medication. Drug manufacturers will now have to cut dosages of immediate-release medications from 10 milligrams to five milligrams for women, and from doses of 12.5 milligrams to 6.25 milligrams for extended-release items.
The changes involved are with medications containing the ingredient zolpidem, which is sold under brands including Ambien, Edluar and Zolpimist, according to CBS New York. The FDA also recommends that manufacturers also lower their doses to men, but is not making that a requirement.
Women have been found to eliminate the sleep medications more slowly than men for unknown reasons. But FDA officials say doctors should prescribe the lowest possible dosages that can treat insomnia.
More than 700 reports of “adverse event” driving incidents related to zolpidem have gone to the FDA in recent years. But Dr. Ellis Unger of the FDA's Office of Drug Evaluation said, according to The Huffington Post, "in most cases it was very difficult to determine if the driving impairment was actually related to zolpidem."
Zolpidem has caused sleepwalking in some cases, according to The New York Times. Dr. Daniel Carlat of Tufts University said one of his patients found that she had gained weight while on the drug from taking midnight trips to the kitchen that she did not even remember.