A new study published in BMJ Open links a five- fold increase in risk of early death with taking prescription sleep aids such as Ambien. With over 16 million Americans prescribed Ambien on a yearly basis, these are disturbing figures. Researchers at Scripps Health in San Diego estimate that in 2010, prescription sleep aids such as Ambien accounted for up to half a million “excess deaths” in the United States. This was inclusive of not only frequent users, but also the occasional user who took fewer than 2 pills a month. These infrequent users were still 3 times more likely to die early than non- users.
"We thought maybe sleeping pills are being prescribed for sicker people, so we tried to take that out of the mix in several different ways," the study’s author, Robert Langer said. "The risk was the same whichever way we looked at it. To me, that was the most startling finding. It blows things like high cholesterol or diabetes out of the water."
The Evidence is Mounting Against Prescription Sleep Aids
This study adds to the mounting body of evidence that sleep aids such as Ambien are unsafe. Similar results were obtained in a 2009 Swedish study following several thousand men and women over a 20 year span. The study found that men who were frequent users were 4.5 times more likely to die early while women were twice as likely to die early. And a 2010 Canadian study found prescription sleeping pill users were nearly twice as likely to die early as non- users.
Over 70 million Americans report problems with insomnia every year. In response, doctors have advocated solutions such as Ambien (zolpidem tartrate), a hypnotic sedative generally used as a sleep aid. This powerful sleep aid is notorious for serious side effects and dangerous consequences including dependency and overdose. Millions of Americans routinely use Ambien and other sleep aids as a habit. Even when taken as prescribed, there are a number of associated side effects that can include: suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression, emotional instability, double vision, parasomnia or the continued action during semi- consciousness, muscle and joint pain, nasal and throat irritation, constipation, and amnesia.
If you have lost a loved one to prescription sleep aids, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call our law office today for a free and confidential consultation.