Zolpidem tartrate, a sedative-hypnotic sleep aid marketed under the brand name Ambien, has been available in the US market since 1993. Recently, however, it has enjoyed a surge in popularity as a result of a very visible new ad campaign by its maker, drug company Sanofi-Aventis.
Unfortunately, as a result of the increasing popularity of the drug, increases in dangerous and even deadly side effects have also been reported.
Many of the alarming side effects of Ambien involve parasomnia. Parasomnia is a condition of semi-consciousness, in which someone performs waking activities without being fully conscious. The most well-known parasomnia behavior is sleepwalking. However, many people will also act out other sleep behaviors, including eating, driving, and having sex, among others.
While the drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis characterizes such events as rare, according to Wisconsin police quoted in USA Today, prescription Ambien was among the top 20 drugs identified in blood tests of drivers who had been pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. Between 1999 and 2004, a total of 187 drivers were arrested while under the influence of Ambien. Washington State reported 78 Ambien-related arrests for impaired driving in 2005.
Additional reports of dangerous effects include Ambien users who engage in binge eating, including dangerous substances such as raw eggs and meat, while sleeping; who cook in their sleep; have sex; and participate in other dangerous sleep behaviors.
The term “Ambien zombies” has been used to describe the parasomniac behavior of those under the influence of Ambien. There have been multiple reports of drivers driving on the wrong side of the street, crashing into large immovable objects, and seeming oblivious to the presence of others, including police officers.
If you suspect that someone is sleepwalking or engaging in other parasomnia activities, doctors recommend that you gently guide them to safety. People experiencing parasomnia can be very difficult to awaken, so the most effective course is often simply to ensure that they don’t hurt themselves.
Other Ambien Side Effects
Some of the other serious side effects associated with Ambien use include the following:
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Temporary insomnia
If you or someone you love is suffering from sleepwalking and other parasomnia behaviors, or has experienced any of these other side effects, seek medical attention immediately.
The makers of Ambien have been the target of several recent lawsuits alleging that the company didn’t do enough to warn patients of the potentially dangerous side effects of the drug.
If you or someone you love has experienced any of the harmful side effects listed above since being prescribed Ambien, you and your family deserve compensation for the damages you’ve suffered.
To learn more about Ambien lawsuits and whether you have a case against Sanofi-Aventis, contact an experienced pharmaceutical injury attorney in your area today. He or she will review your case with you and help you determine how to move ahead and get the compensation you and your family need.