FDA Increasing Scrutiny of Drugs That Cause Drowsy Driving


October 16, 2013

Anyone that struggles with insomnia understands the value of an effective sleep aid that can help you get a quality night of sleep so that you can be alert and productive the next day.  However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently examining the risks associated with sleep aids that are “too effective” at inducing drowsiness in those who take the medications.  The federal agency is now closely scrutinizing drugs that cause drowsiness, such as sleep aids and allergy medications to identify those that may leave drivers too sleepy to safely drive the following morning.

The growing use of prescriptions sleep aids has made the risk of accidents caused by drowsy drivers a focus for making roadways safer.  According to a recent New York Times article, physicians wrote approximately 60 million prescriptions for anti-insomnia sleep aids last year.  Policymakers, traffic safety experts and law enforcement have struggled with how to prosecute drivers who are impaired by sleep aids and other drugs that are being taken subject to a prescription.  A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that five percent of all drivers operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of a prescription medication.

This problem is widespread enough that there have been widely reported car accidents involving high profile individuals who indicated their poor driving was the result of a drug that induced drowsiness.  For example, the former spouse of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was arrested for DUI when she allegedly swerved into a semi-truck after a chemical test reportedly revealed the presence of a sleep aid in her blood according to the Times article.

In the wake of incidents like this one, the FDA is more closely scrutinizing whether the recommended doses for drugs that cause drowsiness appear to leave driver’s impaired the next morning.  The federal agency recently declined to grant approval for a new sleep aid from Merck because tests revealed that some drivers who took the drug struggled while driving the following day.  The agency also recommended that the manufacturer of the generic version of Ambien® reduce the amount of the dose by fifty percent.  While sleep aids are the most obvious problem, the FDA also has warned that it is unsafe to take certain allergy drugs that can have the effect of inducing drowsiness.

In addition to more closely scrutinizing drugs that fight insomnia, the FDA is asking drug companies to conduct more thorough tests involving the impact of their medications on drivers.  If you or someone close to you is injured by a driver impaired by sleep aids or other medications, for over 30 years our Atlanta car accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been providing effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.  No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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