CR is covered by a patent and cannot be made in generic form. The non-CR version of Ambien can be purchased in generic form as Zolpidem Tartrate. Patent and FDA info is here http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/ob/docs/patexclnew.cfm?Appl_No=021774&Product_No=002&table1=OB_Rx. I did not research further to see if I could get the patent expiration date for CR in general. But it does look like that could be some time.
It would definitely be good to see the price come down.
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