Ambien, Sleeping Pills, and DWI

The Food and Drug Administration announced today that it was requesting drug companies to include new warnings on some sleeping pill bottles about “complex sleep-related behaviors, which may include sleep-driving. Sleep driving is defined as driving while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic product, with no memory of the event.” (FDA press release here.)

You may have noticed the recent advertising blitz trumpeting the various benefits of certain sleeping pills, all to help you induce or maintain a good night’s sleep.

You probably also remember last year’s news about Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s low speed car accident, where he claimed…

…that he was apparently disoriented at the time of the crash after taking the prescribed amounts of a sleep aid and an anti-nausea drug.

"I am deeply concerned about my reaction to the medication and my lack of knowledge of the accident that evening." he said.

As Anderson Cooper on CNN noted the next day:

Some people are probably skeptical that a popular drug like Ambien can trigger the kind of behavior attributed to Patrick Kennedy.

What behavior was that?

The report said when the officer approached Kennedy he noticed his "eyes were red and watery, speech was slightly slurred, and upon exiting his vehicle, his balance was unsure."

Those are the classic signs of DWI, found in almost every police report.

And now we find out that it’s not just anecdotal. There is so much scientific evidence now that this can and actually does happen that the FDA wants drug manufacturers to provide warnings for consumers to that effect. 

The drugs include Ambien, Halcion, Lunestra, Seconal and Sonata as well as the lesser known Butisol Sodium, Carbrital , Dalmane, Doral, Placidyl, Prosom, Restoril, and Rozerem.