Sleeping pill warning
7 Healthcast: Sleeping pill warning
The FDA has received more than a dozen reports of people doing strange things -- eating, cooking and even driving after taking prescription sleep aids.
"People get up, they get their car keys and they go drive. This is very different than getting up and taking two steps and walking into a wall or falling down the stairs," Dr. Russell Katz, of the FDA division of neurology products, said.
Patients also report severe allergic reactions. The FDA says problems often happen after taking the pills with other drugs or alcohol.
So now, the agency wants manufacturers of all 13 prescription sleeping pills to note these rare side effects on their labels.
Sleep disorders expert Dr. David Gross hopes that won't scare patients away.
"If someone needs these medications I don't think they shouldn't take it because of this possible problem. But it's like anything else -- nothing is without risk," Dr. David Gross, of Washington Hospital Center, said.
The FDA won't say exactly how many people were affected. In a statement, Sanofi-Aventis, the maker of Ambien, says less than one in 1,000 patients in its clinical trials experienced sleep walking.
The National Sleep Foundation fears many people unknowingly use sleep aids when they shouldn't.
"If you have sleep apnea, in which you stop breathing while you're sleep, one of the worst things you can do -- and endanger yourself -- is take a sleep aid," Richard Gelula, of the National Sleep Foundation, said.
Just one more thing to keep you awake in the quest for a good night's sleep.
Doctors should be getting letters about the new labels this week. The FDA is also creating a patient guide that will soon be available at your local pharmacy to better explain the side effects.
(Copyright (c) 2007 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)