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ER Visits Tied to Ambien on the Rise
Date:5/1/2013

WEDNESDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- There has been a dramatic increase in the number of emergency-room visits related to sleep medications such as Ambien, according to a new U.S. study.

Adverse reactions to zolpidem -- the active ingredient in the sleep aids Ambien, Ambien CR, Edluar and Zolpimist -- rose almost 220 percent between 2005 and 2010, researchers from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found.

The study authors concluded that use of these drugs for the short-term treatment of insomnia should be carefully monitored. Zolpidem, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has been used safely and effectively by millions of Americans, but adverse reactions to the medication have increased. Most of these cases involved people aged 45 and older, the researchers said.

"Although short-term sleeping medications can help patients, it is exceedingly important that they be carefully used and monitored," SAMHSA administrator Pamela Hyde said in an agency news release. "Physicians and patients need to be aware of the potential adverse reactions associated with any medication, and work closely together to prevent or quickly address any problems that may arise."

Possible adverse reactions from medications containing zolpidem include:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Sleep-walking
  • Drowsiness while driving

After analyzing findings from a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related illnesses and deaths, the researchers found that emergency-room cases involving medications such as Ambien increased sharply from about 6,000 in 2005 to more than 19,000 in 2010.

Women were more often affected than men. The findings revealed that during the study time frame, there was a 274 percent increase in the number of women who went to the emergency room due
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