Mind and Body

New short-acting sleeping pill available in pharmacies

Positives and negatives of new drug


A new drug using the same active ingredient as Ambien is available in pharmacies for people who suffer from middle-of-the-night insomnia, Purdue Pharma L.P. announced Thursday.

The pill, called Intermezzo (generic zolpidem tartrate) is available in 1.75 milligram and 3.5 mg doses. Your doctor must write a prescription for this medication.

The pill is approved to be taken by patients who awaken in the middle of the night. Its predecessor Ambien is used only if a person has a full eight hours to devote to sleep, but Intermezzo is shorter-acting, lasting only four hours.

"Patients with middle-of-the-night insomnia now have a treatment option approved for dosing in the middle of the night," said Dr. Joseph Lieberman, professor of Family Medicine and associate editor of the Delaware Medical Journal, in a press release.

"The availability of Intermezzo is an important treatment option for patients who suffer with this form of insomnia and want a treatment that they can use as needed to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night when they have difficulty returning to sleep."

Intermezzo, which is spearmint-flavored, is placed under the tongue to dissolve. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November 2011.

Intermezzo should not be taken while drinking alcohol or taking other sedatives. People who plan on driving within the next four hours of taking the drug should not take Intermezzo.

Click here to learn more about Intermezzo.