Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic drug used to treat insomnia, manufactured by Sanofi Aventis. It was approved for use in 1999. In 2007 the Food and Drug Administration demanded more accurate labeling be applied following worrying cases of, among other things, sleep-driving in patients using the drug.
Following numerous reports of patients who had taken Ambien and experienced side effects into the following day, the FDA required the drug’s label identify several risks, including allergic reactions and a range of complex sleep behaviors. These sleep behaviors include sleep driving. Sleep driving, the process of driving while not truly awake under the influence of a sedative-hypnotic drug, is characterized by total lack of recall for the patient. Other reported cases include patients binge eating with no later memory, sleepwalking, sleep sex, amnesia, and daytime sleepiness and residual feelings of being drugged.
The FDA also asked Sanofi Aventis to contact doctors and health care providers and provide notice of the new warnings. Individuals with a history of sleepwalking may experience stronger side effects, and it’s possible that women are also more likely to engage in sleep-activity such as sleep related eating disorders.
Ambien’s generic name is zolpidem tartrate, and similar sedative-hypnotic drugs also targeted by the FDA include Butisol Sodium, Carbrital, Dalmane, Doral, Halcion, Lunesta, Placidyl, Prosom, Restoril, Rozerem, Seconal, and Sonata.