Product News and Recalls

Emergency Department Visits Due to Common Sleep Aid Double in Recent Years

Zolpidem is a commonly prescribed sleep aid medication that is generally used to treat insomnia. The drug commonly known as Ambien has been involved in a large number of emergency room visits related to overmedication. The number of visits doubled from 21,824 in 2005-2006 to 42,274 in 2009-2010. A Forbes article explains the dangers of overprescribing and drug abuse in the case of this insomnia drug as well as other prescription drugs.

The study comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and is based on the findings by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). DAWN monitors incidents of mortality or drug related morbidity across the nation. In January 2013, the FDA required that the manufacturer of Ambien halve the recommended dose for women because the drowsiness effect often lasted more than 12 hours. The agency only mentioned possibly reducing the dose for men.

The drug can be especially dangerous when combined with other substances or activities. Alcohol, narcotics, and benzodiazepine can dangerously increase the sedative effect of the sleep aid. Alone, the side effects can include dizziness, drowsiness, agitation, and hallucinations. Of these, drowsiness in the morning after taking the medication is especially serious as many patients may attempt to drive while being physically impaired.

Split by gender, zolpiden emergency visits increased 150 percent for men and 69 percent for women. Other prescription drugs were implicated in 57 percent of the visits regarding zolpiden. 26 percent of the incidents involved benzodiazepines and 25 percent involved narcotics.

This study highlights the dangers of prescription sleep aids and the lack of necessary education and guidance on the use of them. While zolpiden is accepted as a treatment for short term insomnia, its dangers can often be understated. It is the job of both the manufacturer and the medical service provider to make sure that patients understand the risks of prescribed medications. When the dangers of a medication are not adequately communicated to the consumer, patients may suffer serious injuries.

Lopez McHugh’s pharmaceutical lawyers are experienced in handling both medical malpractice and pharmaceutical lawsuits. If you or a loved one suffered an injury as a result of poorly or overprescribed medication or insufficient risk analysis, contact us today at (877) 737-8525 or fill out a contact form on our website for a free initial case evaluation.