The hypnotic sleep aid Ambien has been shown to cause parasomnia and depression in some users, as well as myriad other negative side effects. This fact has been widely discounted by the company, Sanofi-Aventis, which manufactures the drug. After it hit the United States market in 1993, Ambien grew in popularity, recently experiencing resurgence due to a new ad campaign marketed by Sanofi-Aventis. As the number of prescriptions has increased so have reports of Ambien’s potentially dangerous and sometimes fatal side effects.
As a result of taking Ambien, patients can experience increased insomnia, hallucinations and suicidal tendencies. One of the most problematic of symptoms is parasomnia. This side effect causes victims to do in sleep the activities that they are accustomed to doing while conscious. They may attempt to drive to work, clean the house, cook dinner or even have sexual encounters. During this time, the patients are in a state of semi-consciousness and when they awake, will not likely remember these activities.
People experiencing parasomnia are often difficult to wake and can be dangerous to both themselves and others until they are fully conscious. Medical professionals encourage loved ones who encounter a person in a parasomnia state to gently guide them to a safe place where they can wake up gradually of their own accord.
Although the drug manufacturer has previously stated that side effects such as parasomnia are rare, police reports state otherwise. Both Wisconsin and Washington State have issued incident reports for a total of 265 cases of patients driving under the influence of Ambien between 199 and 2005. While they are driving, these semi-conscious victims may get in a car accident while never knowing that they are actually in the vehicle. Dangerous and alarming, these incidents are rising in correspondence with the increased use of Ambien.
Ambien has been listed as one of the top 20 substances state police check for when pulling a driver over under the suspicion of drunk driving. Those in a state of parasomnia have been reported driving in the wrong lane, having little regard for pedestrians and other vehicles, as well as crashing into immobile objects.
Following a parasomnia episode caused by Ambien, it may be necessary to seek medical attention. If the patient undergoes additional problems they may want to seek out an experienced and knowledgeable pharmaceutical injury attorney who can help assess their particular claim, as well as advise them of specific state and federal laws regarding such a claim.