New study: Sleeping pills dramatically affect women differently than men

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Sleeping pills may be the last thing some women need.

The FDA is now recommending that women receive lower doses of drugs that contain zolpidem, used in a new drug called Intermezzo and in the popular sleep aid Ambien.

A recent study shows 15 percent of women would be impaired if they tried to drive eight hours after taking zolpidem, compared to only three percent of men.

Others could suffer temporary memory loss.

Dr.  Peter Rice of the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences explains that a woman doesn't process the drug the same way as men. “Men have higher testosterone levels than women, which makes them (men) metabolize it more rapidly. So if women take that 10 milligram dose (they) will have a higher level.”

Researchers say women can have a different reaction to a range of drugs from anesthesia to aspirin, yet many studies don’t even include women.

Research on the effect aspirin has on heart attack and stroke is a good example of a study that didn’t consider women of child bearing age.

Health experts say that's why women who want to have children or are pregnant should always ask their doctor about risks associated with the medicines they take.

Studies also show women have unique reactions to alcohol, tobacco and cocaine since a woman’s liver metabolism, kidney function and certain gastric enzymes perform differently than men’s.

Researchers point out that while women can suffer from negative side effects from certain drugs that men have no problem with, they can also experience a greater benefit from other drugs due to an enhanced ability to absorb the medication.

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