A prescription of bottle of Ambien.
A prescription of bottle of Ambien. - 
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The Centers for Disease Control released a new report this morning that some eight and a half million American adults take sleeping pills to get their zzzz on.


The demand for these drugs has grown modestly, but the market is, well, sleepy. On one hand, you’ve got hot drugs -- like cancer treatments -- that pharmaceutical giants buy for millions. Then there are the sleeping pills.

Sam Fazeli, an analyst with Bloomberg Industries says most brand name sleeping pills have gone generic, with Zolpidem leading the pack. “Many companies have kind of stepped away from this space because Zolpidem is a pretty good drug as sleeping pills go,” he says.

Fazeli estimates the U.S. market for sleeping pills is, at most, several hundred million dollars a year, a small number considering the 50-70 millions of Americans who suffer from sleep disorders.

Fazeli says the problem is coming up with something that hits the sleeper’s sweet spot. “You don’t want to have a long acting drug because then the patient wakes up groggy and is dangerous for them to drive. And then if you get rid of that aspect, of course patients wake up early,” he says.

If a drug maker could develop a pill that gets people 5-6 hours a night and feeling totally refreshed, Fazeli says consumers would, “bite a company’s arm off.”

Or, maybe just wake up in a better mood.

Follow Dan Gorenstein at @dmgorenstein