Driving while asleep among risks of sleeping pills
The FDA recently demanded stricter warnings on the labels of various prescription sleep medications in response to some alarming side-effects. Most notably, some sleeping pill patients have been driving in their sleep; in addition to sleep-driving, those on sleep medications are also completing other “complicated activities” while sleeping, including eating, making phone calls, and having sex.
Over a dozen sleep-driving cases have been reported, according to the FDA, and many more could be going unreported. Rep. Patrick Kennedy is perhaps the best-known example: he crashed his car after taking Ambien and Phenergan (which also acts as a sedative). He had no recollection of the accident.
Another side effect included in the updated warning on drug labels is severe allergic reaction, which can be fatal, and facial swelling. Beyond the updated labeling, doctors will be sent letters detailing the updated warnings and patients will soon be supplied with pamphlets explaining the risks of sleeping pills and steps to take to avoid problems.
If you are currently taking a prescription sleep aid, you should contact your health care provider. The FDA does not recommend discontinuing your medication without first speaking with your doctor.
Drugs included in the label warning update are the following 13 products:
- Ambien/Ambien CR(Sanofi Aventis)
- Butisol Sodium (Medpointe Pharm HLC)
- Carbrital (Parke-Davis)
- Dalmane (Valeant Pharm)
- Doral (Questcor Pharms)
- Halcion (Pharmacia & Upjohn)
- Lunesta (Sepracor)
- Placidyl (Abbott)
- Prosom (Abbott)
- Restoril (Tyco Healthcare)
- Rozerem (Takeda)
- Seconal (Lilly)
- Sonata (King Pharmaceuticals)