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Be Alert: FDA Halves Lunesta Dose

July 7, 2014 | Michael Barasch

In an effort to reduce the dangerous morning-after effects of sleep aids, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced labeling and dosage changes for the drug eszopiclone, brand name Lunesta.

In mid-May, the FDA reported findings of a study that looked at the effect of the drug on 91 healthy adults aged 25 to 40. Those results include:

  • The current Lunesta dose of three milligrams was associated with severe psycho-motor and memory impairment the next day.
  • Men and women were similarly affected.
  • Impairment was apparent seven to 11 hours after one dose of the medication was ingested.

More than a year ago, the FDA recommended dosage and labeling changes for another popular sleep aid, Ambien. In March of this year, a Westchester County jury found Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, innocent of drugged-driving charges after she mistakenly ingested Ambien instead of her thyroid medication.

In its safety announcement, the FDA recommended the starting dose of Lunesta be lowered to one milligram for both women and men. The Ambien alert was directed primarily at women.

While announcing the label changes, the FDA urged doctors to ensure their patients understood the potential for loss of alertness the day after taking a sleep aid.

On a morning commute, patients taking Lunesta or Ambien may experience difficulty making decisions, poor motor control and increased reaction time to a driving emergency. If you take a sleep aid, talk to your doctor about the dose that is right for you.

If you drive in the morning, be careful — the driver next to you may be asleep at the wheel. If you are seriously injured in an accident caused by someone else, speak with a skilled personal injury law firm in New York City.

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