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FDA Tackles Drowsy Driving Problem

Several government and safety organizations have made attempts to reduce drowsy driving. The Food and Drug Administration, while not the first name in highway safety, recently weighed in by reducing the starting dose of the drug Lunesta. Lunesta is a popular sleep aid and was recently the subject of a study connecting it to drowsiness, loss of coordination and memory. The effects of the drug were still noticeable in some patients 11 hours after taking the medication. That would put many users square in rush hour traffic, at a time when drowsiness and lack of coordination can be deadly.

The maker of the drug will cut the initial dose of Lunesta in half, from 2 milligrams to 1. Lunesta is not the first sleep drug to receive this treatment. The FDA reduced the recommended dosage of Ambien and generic sleep aids using the ingredient zolpidem last year. Lunesta does not contain zolpidem, but was still found to cause drowsiness extending long after the drug is taken.

Drowsy driving is a massive problem in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 71,000 are injured each year in the U.S. in car accidents caused primarily by tired drivers. Insomnia aids represent a double-edged sword. They may help users get sufficient sleep who would otherwise be left exhausted, but they may extend the period of drowsiness into many people's morning commute. It is up to drivers to avoid getting behind the wheel while drowsy.

If you are yawning, rubbing your eyes and find your attention is lacking, you should not be driving. Drowsy driving can be deadly.

Source: Newsmax, "FDA Lowers Lunesta Dose Over Morning Drowsiness Driving Fears," 16 May 2014

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