Quaaludes, the pills Bill Cosby admitted giving to women so he could have sex with them, are a prescription sedative that took off as a recreational drug during the 1970s disco era. In 1985, commercial production ceased and clandestine synthesis began.
From the BBC News:
…In the 1960s, it was being used to treat insomnia and anxiety. However, it didn't take long for the drug's potent features to be misused.
"Doctors were essentially giving them out like candy," says Justin Gass, author of a book about the drug. "It was very easy to obtain Quaaludes in the mid-late 1970s and early 1980s."
People could buy them in semi-legal "stress clinics" without needing to visit a GP. They were pseudo-medical centres that would hand out the maximum legal prescription. These tactics would often be the clinics' eventual downfall, says David Herzberg, professor of history at the University at Buffalo.
At its height during the 1970s, Quaalude could be found across the US and earned the nickname "disco biscuits".
"The Rise and Fall of Quaaludes" (BBC News)
My favorite Quaalude reference in film: