FDA warns Lunesta may cause impaired driving, memory, and coordination, lowers recommended dose

by Michael Heygood

Citing data showing that a person may be less alert and do things such as driving less safely the day after taking Lunesta, the FDA has cut the recommended dosage of the well-known sleep aid in half. The FDA has decided to decrease the recommended starting dose of Lunesta from 2 mg down to 1 mg.

The FDA pointed to one study in particular in which some healthy adults were given 3 mg of Lunesta and some were given only a placebo. The men and women who took Lunesta had “severe next-morning psychomotor and memory impairment” some 7½ hours later, as well as “impairment to driving skills, memory and coordination as long as 11 hours after the drug is taken,” according to the FDA. The study found that even people taking the recommended dose could suffer from impaired driving skills, memory and coordination as long as 11 hours after taking the drug. One of the more alarming aspects of the study was that the impaired patients often claimed that they felt completely alert, with no hint of drowsiness.

Anyone currently taking 2 or 3 milligram doses should ask a doctor about how to safely continue taking the medication. Health care professionals may still potentially increase the dosage as high as 3 mg while warning patients of the consequences. Higher doses are more likely to impair driving and other activities that require alertness the following morning.

Lunesta is indicated for the treatment of insomnia. The drug involved is actually Eszopiclone. It is sold by Sunovion under the brand name Lunesta. Sunovion claims Lunesta is “the No. 1 prescribed branded sleep aid.” The product’s website has also asserted that “more than 30 studies” have shown Lunesta “to be effective in many different types of insomnia patients,” and that “there are no restrictions on duration for taking Lunesta.”

Heygood, Orr & Pearson fighting for patient safety

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we believe that when a doctor or hospital commits medical malpractice by wrongfully prescribing powerful drugs or by failing to properly warn their patients about the risks and side effects of a dangerous drug, the negligent party should be held accountable in a court of law. The attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have the experience and expertise to assist injured patients with their medical malpractice claims.

Our attorneys have successfully represented numerous victims of medical malpractice. Among our attorneys’ recent verdicts, settlements and results are the following:

  • Jim Orr negotiated a $6.75 million settlement for the family of an 8 year-old child who suffered permanent brain damage due to medical errors occurring at a VA hospital.
  • Michael Heygood achieved a $2.2 million jury verdict in a medical malpractice lawsuit arising from the premature discharge of a newborn infant from the hospital with low glucose levels.
  • Eric Pearson argued the appeal in Columbia Medical Center of Las Colinas, Inc. v. Hogue, 271 S.W.3d 238 (Tex. 2009), in which the Texas Supreme Court upheld a gross negligence finding against the defendant hospital in a medical malpractice case and affirmed the jury’s $9 million verdict on behalf of his clients.

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have the knowledge, experience and financial resources necessary to prosecute even the most complex medical negligence case. If you believe you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical malpractice, please contact us for a free consultation.

We are not afraid to take on Big Pharma. We do it all the time.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have fought for years to ensure that drug and medical device companies who engage in reckless conduct are held responsible for their actions. From pharmaceutical liability cases involving the fentanyl pain patch or defective drugs such as Yaz and Yasmin, Actos, Avandia, and Accutane to lawsuits filed against the makers of defective hip and knee replacements and other medical devices, our law firm has made it a career priority to ensure that the makers of these dangerous products are held responsible in a court of law.

The attorneys at our firm have tried more than 200 cases to verdict. In total, our lawyers have achieved verdicts and settlements for our clients totaling more than $200 million. Our law firm is made up of trial lawyers in the truest sense of the phrase: we are as comfortable in front of a judge or jury as we are drafting legal briefs. Each of our named partners—Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson—has been named by their peers as Super Lawyers* for several years in a row, an honor given only to the top 5% of attorneys.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous drug or medical device, you have legal rights. For a free legal consultation about your case and to learn more about whether you may be eligible to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for your injuries, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form.


Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2014.

by Michael Heygood

Michael Heygood is a licensed attorney and partner at HO&P who focuses on insurance and corporate litigation, and other civil arenas. Michael has been named multiple times to the Super Lawyers List.