These reports have provoked the F.D.E. to order the drug makers to make certain fliers for such sleeping drugs, where patients could read detailed instructions on how to use them.
The investigation of such side effects was caused by, but limited to numerous reports from the users of Ambien (the most prescribed sleeping drug). Their complaints ranged from harmless sleepwalking and hallucinations to eating while asleep, violent outbursts and driving, which is the most disturbing.
Those who suffer from night eating after taking the pill reported missing food, wrappers in bed and traces of cooking in the kitchen and they can't recall eating, cooking or anything at all.
The more disturbing group is the one of sleeping drivers. Such people say that all they could remember was taking a pill and going to bed. However they wake up in their pajamas in the middle of the road and being interrogated by a police officer. Fortunately, there were no death reports of sleep-driving.
These reports from citizens have also gained some scientific background, as there is a series of institutions, foundations and scientists to run various tests in this sphere.
Such examples of scientific proof were given by Laura J. Liddicoat in Wisconsin. She made a presentation based on six examples of driving 'under Ambien'. Other scientists, Dr. Carlos Schenck and Dr. Mark Mahowald of the University of Minnesota, investigated 30 cases of nighttime eating and also 'under Ambien'.
It should be mentioned here that some users don't remember doing anything while asleep, but the fact is that people reported to make phone calls, orders over Internet, to have sex or doing anything else and not being aware of it.
Dr. Russel Katz, director for neurology product at the F.D.A., said that the cause for all these effects could be alcohol. And even thought the manufacturers mention the danger of taking a sleeping pills while consuming alcohol, Dr. Katz thinks this mentioning should be limited to the fact that "not a drop (of alcohol) is allowed".
Thus the F.D.A. is going to claim from the drugs manufacturers additional guides for the consumers, where all the risks of mixing a certain drug with any quantity of alcohol or any other drug, which suppresses the nervous system, would be indicated. Samples of such guides should be submitted to the F.D.A. offices until May, Dr. Katz says.
Such warning notes will include a description of the side effects of the manufacturer's product, as well as some information on rare, but possible allergic reactions. For example, there have been registered swells up of air passages after using a drug called Rozerem, which is among the newest on the market.
The statistics show that Ambien was the main cause for all the dangerous side effects, but the agency concluded that such side effects could be aroused by any other sleeping drug. The explanation for Ambien causing the most of these side effects is simple: it had received the most of public attention due to a vast ad campaign, but there is no doubt there exists a possibility of other pills causing the upper mentioned side effects.
This labeling campaign was caused by a warning by the Australian authorities. In Australia Ambien is being sold under the trademark of Stilnox.
There have been 16 reports of unusual side effects of consuming sleeping pills in Australia and they were not limited to driving or eating while asleep. A woman said she woke up and discovered she had a paintbrush in her hand, while her front door was freshly painted.