Criticism of widespread prescription sleep aid use is growing in the wake of increasing reports of people who eat, cook and drive in their sleep after taking Ambien.
Manufacturer Defends Drug
Ambien's maker Sanofi-Aventis has defended the safety of the drug, arguing that such side effects are rare. However, it is presently unknown how often they may occur, or which patients are the most vulnerable.
And even a rare side effect can affect a considerably number of people, considering that 26 million prescriptions for Ambien are written each year.
Some reported problems with the sleep aid include:
- 19 patients have been reported as eating in their sleep while taking Ambien; two started small fires while trying to cook
- Ambien is one of the top 20 drugs found in the blood of drivers pulled over by the police, according to a report from Wisconsin
- Ambien was linked to a number of traffic accidents reported to the FDA
Some At Higher Risk
Some patients are likely to be at a higher risk of side effects. One study showed that nearly every participant who experienced sleep eating was also taking antidepressants. Tendencies towards sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and sleepwalking are also risk factors.