FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

No, Ambien Does Not Make You a Racist But It Does A Lot of Other Concerning Things

Photo by Sarah Deer | CC BY 2.0

“While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication,” tweeted Sanofi-Aventis after Roseanne Barr blamed her tweets on the sleeping drug Ambien. While the drug maker may look like the good guy now––and enjoy a boost in Ambien/zolpidem sales––12 years ago it was a different story.

Soon after news that Ambien use could result in binge eating and driving while asleep, the drug makers was forced to launch an ad campaign that essentially told people after you take Ambien get in bed and stay there. Dieters were waking up horrified amid mountains of pizza, Krispy Kreme donuts, and Häagen-Dazs cartons consumed by their evil twin. Law enforcement officials reported traffic accidents increasing with some drivers not even recognizing police officers there to arrest them. (Dude! Can ya help me get my car out of this ditch?)

In addition to sleep-walking, sleep-driving, sleep-eating and sleep-phoning the drug was linked to sleep-sex. One woman told me she woke up after taking Ambien to find her fingers black and discovered she had drunk a bottle of black shoe polish in an Ambien blackout.

In 2006, a 36-year-old lawyer from Andover, Massachusetts, was sleep-driving on Ambien when he struck and killed a man who was changing a tire alongside his wife and young son, according to Marie Claire magazine. Two years later, a 56-year-old woman also sleep-driving while on Ambien killed a mother of 11 children.

In 2012, in San Antonio, Julie Ann Bronson, a 42-year-old flight attendant was tried for running over a mother and her two daughters while “sleep driving” and her life was “ruined” by Ambien, said he lawyer.

Also that year, the Mayo clinic announced it would no longer prescribe Ambien to inpatients because of the high risk of falls. Data on more than 16,000 hospitalized patients found that the fall rate on Ambien was more than four times that of those not on the sleeping pill. Ambien was correlated with more falls than factors like age, mental impairment, delirium or insomnia, wrote authors in Journal of Hospital Medicine, reports Newsday.

Then, The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders reported “Two Cases of Zolpidem-Associated Homicide.” “This Brief Report presents 2 cases in which concomitant zolpidem [Ambien] and paroxetine [Paxil] use was associated with uncharacteristic, complex acts of violence for which the individuals in question claimed total or partial amnesia. Neither individual had a history of aggressive behavior before killing his or her spouse; both most likely took more than 5 mg of zolpidem on the nights of their offenses.”

By 2014, emergency department visits linked to Ambien/zolpidem had doubled reported the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the agency within the HSS dedicated to the behavioral health of the nation. The drug was responsible for 42,274 visits sometimes in conjunction with other drugs and alcohol. Almost half of zolpidem-related ED visits resulted in hospital admission or transfer to another facility and a quarter resulted in intensive care treatment in the ICU.

Barr is hardly the first public figure tainted by Ambien use. In 2006, under the influence of the drug, former Rhode Island representative Patrick Kennedy drove to Capitol Hill to “vote” at 2:45 a.m., crashing his car. Police reported seeing Kennedy’s green Ford Mustang convertible “traveling at a high rate of speed in a construction zone and also swerving into the wrong lane of travel” with its lights off. Kennedy, the youngest son of the long-time Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy and nephew of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, then entered rehab.

Another Kennedy-related Ambien event occurred in 2014. A generic version of Ambien was found in the bloodstream of Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and former wife of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, when she swerved into a tractor-trailer and kept driving. Witnesses said she was had been weaving for miles. Kennedy told police that she may have confused the Ambien with her daily thyroid med. In court she blamed a “partial seizure.”

In 2009, Ambien was again in the news when Tiger Woods reportedly used it to spice up sex with his string of consorts which led to his separation from Elin Nordegren Woods.

The sale of Ambien and other sleeping pills has boomed over the last two decades thanks to TV drug ads. To further grow the insomnia market, Pharma has also rolled out subcategories of insomnia like chronic, acute, transient, initial, delayed-onset, middle-of-the-night, early-morning and non-restful sleep so everyone finds the sleeping pill that is exactly right for them. Ka-ching. Yet there is a dark underside to the national love affair with sleeping pills like Ambien that Pharma has produced: out of control behavior, car accidents, ED admissions and worse.

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 25, 2019
Elliot Sperber
Send ICE to Hanford
June 24, 2019
Jim Kavanagh
Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back
Nino Pagliccia
Sorting Out Reality From Fiction About Venezuela
Jeff Sher
Pickin’ and Choosin’ the Winners and Losers of Climate Change
Howard Lisnoff
“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”
Robert Fisk
The West’s Disgraceful Silence on the Death of Morsi
Dean Baker
The Old Japan Disaster Horror Story
David Mattson
The Gallatin Forest Partnership and the Tyranny of Ego
George Wuerthner
How Mountain Bikes Threaten Wilderness
Christopher Ketcham
The Journalist as Hemorrhoid
Manuel E. Yepe
Yankee Worship of Bombings and Endless Wars
Mel Gurtov
Iran—Who and Where is The Threat?
Wim Laven
Revisiting Morality in the Age of Dishonesty
Thomas Knapp
Facebook’s Libra Isn’t a “Cryptocurrency”
Weekend Edition
June 21, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Brett Wilkins
A Brief History of US Concentration Camps
Rob Urie
Race, Identity and the Political Economy of Hate
Rev. William Alberts
America’s Respectable War Criminals
Paul Street
“So Happy”: The Trump “Boom,” the Nation’s Despair, and the Decline of Joe Biden
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ask Your Local Death Squad
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialisation of Food
Eric Draitser
The Art of Trade War: Is Trump Winning His Trade War against China?
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s Russian Problem
Jonathan Cook
Forget Trump’s Deal of the Century: Israel Was Always on Course to Annexation
Andrew Levine
The Biden Question
Stanley L. Cohen
From Tel Aviv to Tallahassee
Robert Hunziker
Permafrost Collapses 70 Years Early
Kenn Orphan
Normalizing Atrocity
Ajamu Baraka
No Dare Call It Austerity
Ron Jacobs
The Redemptive Essence of History
David Rosen
Is Socialism Possible in America?
Dave Lindorff
The US as Rogue Nation Number 1
Joseph Natoli
The Mad King in His Time
David Thorstad
Why I’m Skipping Stonewall 50
Michael Welton
Native People: Changing Our Ways of Seeing
Peter Bolton
The US-UK “Special Relationship” is a Farce
Ramzy Baroud
‘World Refugee Day’: Palestinians Keep Their Right of Return Alive Through Hope, Resistance
Louis Proyect
The Douma Gas Attack: What’s the Evidence It was a False Flag?
Binoy Kampmark
Nigel Farage’s Grand Tour of Sabotage
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Sanctions are Sadistic and Spiteful
Norman Solomon
Clueless and Shameless: Joe Biden, Staggering Frontrunner
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong is Far From China’s Biggest Problem
Lawrence Davidson
On the Alleged “Preciousness of Life”
Mel Gurtov
Impeach Trump
Rajan Menon
America’s Suicide Epidemic: It’s Hitting Trump’s Base Hard
Dan Bacher
Oregon Governor Kate Brown Signs Five-Year Fracking Ban Bill
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail