Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member andpartner
Is there a possible link between sleep drugs and automobile accidents?
Consumer advocates have long warned that there is. New evidence indicates
that the effects of common prescription sleep aids
do affect drivers the following day.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a consumer advisory in 2007 requesting that all manufacturers of
sedative-hypnotic drugs strengthen their warning labels. By 2013, the FDA held
additional sleep expert advisory committee meetings to determine the most effective labeling for sleep aids and whether banning
direct-to-consumer advertising is advisable because of the possibility
of next-day impairment. Residual next-day adverse effects were of concern,
especially in dosing recommendations. Included in the discussions were
phase three impaired driving studies in formal driving tests. One goal
of the meeting was to decide how explicit labeling should be. As much
labeling currently specifies, the burden is put upon patients to determine
whether they are able to drive, when they are not necessarily reliable
or able to determine that because of the drugs. As one of the clinical
team leaders of the recent meeting indicated, "It would be so convenient
and it would be so good if you could just tell people, don’t drive
unless you feel O.K. I think this has penetrated now that this is not
adequate. It is still good advice that, if you feel impaired, don’t
drive. But if you feel fine, you might be impaired."
Recently, the FDA has decided to further review all insomnia drugs on the
market and ask manufacturers for more extensive driving tests for all
new sleep drugs. The agency also plans to more closely study any drug
that causes drowsiness.
White House Office of the National Drug Program has recently recommended that all states pass per se laws on drugs, states
are left with the question of whether to include a prescription exception
in their impairment laws. Although it has long been recognized that sleep
deprivation and sleepiness lead to dangerous driving, it is important
to also understand that the lingering side effects of taking a sleep aid
may also lead to dangerous driving. Many questions remain unanswered about
the specifics of how individuals react to sleep aids, but a real danger
Do you have questions about this post?
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial
Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan
Washington, D.C. The association recently named him "Trial Lawyer
of the Year" (2011). He has been rated by
Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also
describes him as
"one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident
claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and
work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against
truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority,
and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest
settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri
has also been acknowledged as one of "The Best Lawyers in America" by
Best Lawyers (2013 edition) and has been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by
Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2013)– national publications that honor the
top lawyers in America.
If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email
Mr. Zambri at
email@example.com or call him at 202-822-1899.