Sunday, March 18, 2007
Article in the New York Times -- F.D.A. Warns of Sleeping Pills’ Strange Effects, by Stephanie Saul.
Here's an excerpt:
The most widely prescribed sleeping pills can cause strange behavior like driving and eating while asleep, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday, announcing that strong new warnings will be placed on the labels of 13 drugs.
The agency also ordered the makers of the well-known drugs Ambien and Lunesta and the producers of 11 other commonly used sleeping pills to create patient fliers explaining how to use them safely.
The fliers, which the agency says it requires when it sees a significant public health concern, will be handed out at pharmacies when consumers fill their prescriptions.
Although the agency says that problems with the drugs are rare, reports of the unusual side effects have grown as use of sleeping pills has increased.
Sales in the United States of Ambien and Lunesta alone last year exceeded $3 billion. Use of those medications and other similar drugs has soared by more than 60 percent since 2000, fueled by television, print and other advertising. Last year, makers of sleeping pills spent more than $600 million on advertising aimed at consumers.
The review was prompted, in part, by queries to the agency from The New York Times last year, after some users of the most widely prescribed drug, Ambien, started complaining online and to their doctors about unusual reactions ranging from fairly benign sleepwalking episodes to hallucinations, violent outbursts, nocturnal binge eating and — most troubling of all — driving while asleep.