According to the National Sleep Foundation, around 30 percent of Americans suffer with some form of sleep disruption. Conditions like insomnia can lead to dangerous side effects during the day, and 10 percent of people who have trouble sleeping also suffer with functional impairment during the day. In cases of chronic insomnia, doctors will sometimes prescribe medications that can help people get the sleep they need, but some drugs can cause dangerous side effects. Learn more about the effects that one of these drugs (zolpidem tartrate) has on your body, and find out why you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit as a result of this medication.
How zolpidem tartrate works
Zolpidem tartrate (which you will often see as a branded medication), is a sedative-hypnotic. These drugs slow down brain activity. In turn, this allows the body to relax and will often induce a state of sleep. In the United States, doctors most commonly prescribe the drug as a standard or extended-release tablet.
The medication normally works quickly, and doctors recommend that you go to bed immediately after you take the tablet. Indeed, the drug can continue to cause drowsiness some time after you wake up, so you shouldn't take the medication if you can't stay in bed for at least seven or eight hours. Doctors warn that if you get up too quickly, the drug can cause memory loss.
A doctor will normally only prescribe the medication for a short period. The drug becomes less effective after two weeks, and your body may become dependent on the medication after this time. That aside, you can't immediately stop taking zolpidem, or you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
The serious side effects that zolpidem tartrate can cause
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved zolpidem tartrate to treat short-term insomnia in 2008. The medication quickly became popular across the United States and is now one of the most common drugs that doctors prescribe for insomnia. Nonetheless, the drug can cause several side effects.
The drug can cause a range of symptoms that include drowsiness, nausea, headache, dizziness, unusual dreams and muscle aches. These symptoms will often subside quickly, but you should contact your doctor if the problems persist.
Some zolpidem side effects are more serious. In 2009, a North Carolina man stormed into a nursing home and gunned down ten people, killing all but two of them. The man's defense attorney proved that the man was under the influence of zolpidem, leading to a second-degree murder conviction that may otherwise have become the death penalty.
Since then, some users have reported lots of strange side effects when using the medication. These side effects include dangerous blackouts, memory loss and certain bizarre behaviors. Some patients report that they eat bizarre things during their sleep, or sleep walk to unknown destinations. In one case, a patient reported that she found herself eating buttered cigarettes and eggs. In many cases, zolpidem-induced states have caused accidents and injuries.
Doctors also warn patients that the drug can cause drowsiness and problems with concentration hours after you wake up. In some cases, road accidents have occurred where the driver was still under the influence of zolpidem tartrate.
Why zolpidem injuries can lead to legal action
In 2013, the FDA issued a safety communication, recommending a reduction in the bedtime dose of zolpidem tartrate. The warning told patients and healthcare providers that the existing dose could impair daily activities the next day, with dangerous implications. The FDA instructed manufacturers to change the instructions on all product packaging. A warning on the packaging also advised people not to drive the day after they take the sedative.
For some people, this advice came too late, and zolpidem tartrate has led to personal injury lawsuits against the manufacturers. In the United States, companies must make sure that their products are safe to use. Drug manufacturers must also make sure that they display clear warnings to users about any potential side effects that the medication can have.
Warnings on zolpidem tartrate told patients that the drug could cause bizarre behaviors, but described these symptoms as extremely rare. What's more, the warnings indicated that the problems generally only occurred when the patient had been drinking alcohol. The 2009 North Carolina shooting proved that this was not always true, showing that the warnings were inadequate.
A personal injury attorney can help you collect the evidence you need to file a lawsuit. Your attorney from a firm like Solomon, Sherman & Gabay can help you gather medical evidence that proves a link between the medication and your injury. An attorney can also help you claim compensation for any extra medical costs or time off work that you need to have because of your injury.
Zolpidem tartrate is a popular insomnia medication in the United States, but patients can experience several serious side effects. If you or someone you love suffers an injury as a result of this medication, talk to a personal injury attorney for more advice about the best next steps.