Sanofi-Aventis has launched its new long-acting sleeping pill, Ambien CR (zolpidem extended-release), and is hoping to follow up on the success of the originator – which is still the number one prescribed treatment for insomnia in the USA but is threatened with generic competition in 2006 [[31/05/05d]], [[08/04/05f]].

The launch takes place one month after Ambien CR won a nod from the country’s Food and Drug Administration for both sleep induction and sleep maintenance – a new label [[06/09/05f]]. Sanofi-Aventis will be keen to gain as much ground as possible in light of the forthcoming copycat competition, and after an earlier approvable letter meant it had to put back its original launch predictions of mid-2005 [[12/04/05c]].

The original Ambien had 2004 sales of $1.8 billion dollars, and Sanofi-Aventis is hoping to surpass this success. Ambien CR is the first and only extended-release prescription sleep medication for both sleep induction and maintenance, and with no significant impact on the following day’s performance, says the firm.