ER Visits Linked to Sleeping Pills up 220% Since 2005

Ambien lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm recently reported that the FDA and other drug agencies recently lowered the recommended dosages for women taking sleeping pills. Our attorneys would also like to highlight that ER visits associated with these sleeping pills have risen substantially – by nearly 220% – in recent years.

With drug overdose deaths on the rise, this increase in ER visits should come as no surprise. In the United States, more than almost every other country in the world, between 50 and 70 million people suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2005, more than 6,000 ER visits were due to zolpidem. Zolpidem is the active ingredient in Ambien, Ambien CR, Eldular, and Zolpimist. In 2010, that number rose to nearly 19,500 – 74% of those being patients being 45 years and older. In response, the SAMHSA Administrator stated that physicians and patients need to be more aware of the potential adverse reactions associated with any medication and work together to prevent or address any problems that arise.

Zolpidem is used to treat short-term insomnia, and causes dangerous side effects, such as hallucinations, depression, addiction, suicide, sleepwalking or eating, and memory loss. Most notably, zolpidem causes an increased risk of “sleep driving,” which is residual daytime sleepiness or feeling of being drugged, which often results in accidents.

The extended release form of the drug (Ambien CR) is of particular danger, and women are especially more susceptible to the effects because their bodies are slower to rid zolpidem from their systems. Between 2005 and 2010, women represented 68% of all zolpidem-related ER visits. This knowledge led the FDA to recommend that women should take only half of the regular recommended dose.

The FDA recommended the recommended dosages for men should be lowered as well in January 2013 due to studies that suggest patients face significantly higher rates of injury due to morning drowsiness. As with other pharmaceuticals, the effects of zolpidem may become much stronger when combined with other substances. For example, about half of zolipdem ER visits involved another substance (the majority being alcohol) and about 37% were due to it being taken in combination with another depressive drug (Xanax, Valium, etc).

Ambien is an incredibly powerful drug, and many users have complained of dependency with prolonged use. This can lead to unintentional overdoses, life-threatening allergic reactions, and other serious side effects, like sleep driving. The FDA recently ordered 13 separate drug makers to include warnings on their labels about these side effects.

In 2012, the Mayo Clinic conducted a study that found that hospitalized patients who were given Ambien as a sleeping aid had a significantly higher risk of falling than those who were not given the drug. As a result, the Mayo Clinic decided to phase-out use of Ambien in its hospitals, choosing a replacement sleeping aid instead. Unfortunately, the study did not establish a specific cause and effect relationship between Ambien use and the increased risk of falls.

One man in Alabama recently filed a lawsuit against Sanofi-Aventis, a manufacturer of zolpidem, claiming that the drug made him engage in bizarre and erratic behavior and have no memory of it afterward. His lawsuit alleged that the drug did not have proper labeling warning patients about the potential side effects.

Ambien attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm affirm that there is an array of potential side effects associated with zolpidem, not all of which were made evident by its manufacturers. If you believe you suffered serious personal injury as a result of sleeping pill use, you may be entitled to significant compensation through a lawsuit against the manufacturer.