ER Visits Related to Zolpidem, Also Known as Ambien, Skyrocket

Sleep is considered one of the pillars of good health, along with exercise and good nutrition. However, between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from insomnia, a condition that is treatable with medication. Zolpidem is the drug marketed under the names of Zolpimist and variations of Ambien as well as Edular. While many individuals find relief from insomnia from the drug, there has been an increase in recent years in the number of emergency department visits related to the use of Zolpidem.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides regular reports issued from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) that logs data from all emergency department visits related to drug use. Its findings can include adverse reactions to prescription drugs, as well as misuse and abuse of illegal substances.

The reports issued by SAMHSA are helpful to physicians and pharmacists, as well as policymakers and those who develop educational materials for the prevention of drug abuse. The reports make it possible to spot trends in drug reactions and abuse, as well as ensuring that adequate drug treatment facilities are available to those who need them.

A new report resulting from DAWN data indicates a significant increase in the number of adverse reactions related to Zolpidem. There has been a 220 percent increase, from 6,111 visits related to Zolpidem in 2005 to 19,487 visits recorded in 2010. In 2010, the total number of visits related to Zolpidem was 64,175, with 30 percent related to an adverse reaction.

There were demographic differences noted in the results of the analysis. For instance, among females, visits related to Zolpidem increased 274 percent, while for males the increase was by 144 percent. In 2010, females represented two-thirds of all visits related to Zolpidem.

Fifty-six percent of all Zolpidem-related visits were made by individuals over the age of 45. However, when it came to Zolpidem-related visits involving an adverse reaction, the over-65 age group had the largest representation at 32 percent, followed by those aged 45 to 54.

The combining of Zolpidem with other pharmaceutical drugs was a significant problem, with about 50 percent of all visits involving other medications. Narcotic painkillers were frequently the interacting drug, with 21 percent of visits related to a narcotic-Zolpidem combination problem. Anti-anxiety and other insomnia medications were also commonly cited problems in combination with Zolpidem, represented in about 16 percent of all visits.

While Zolpidem is an effective short-term treatment for insomnia, the report suggests that dosage and monitoring programs should be closely examined. The data indicates that females and older adults are especially sensitive to the drug and may require a significant adjustment in dosage recommendations.

Other precautions should be maintained, such as the use of only one pharmacy for all medications, to ensure that all medications prescribed can be used safely together.

 

 

 

Posted on June 11th, 2013

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