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FDA Issues New Warnings on Sleep Medications

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The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered manufacturers of sleeping pills to strengthen their warnings about a rare side effect known as sleep driving. According to the report many if not all sleeping pills may sometimes cause sleep driving. This rare side effect was first noted in the media when Congressman Patrick Kennedy crashed his car. Congressman Kennedy blamed the wreck on the sleep driving effect on Ambien he had been taking.

The effects of these sleeping pills are not simply limited to sleep driving. Individuals may wake up in the middle of the night and engage in other tasks and then return to bed without ever realizing they have occurred. According to Yahoo! News these medications resulted in such activities as making phone calls and preparing and eating meals.

The Food and Drug Administration wouldn’t say exactly how many cases of sleep-driving it had linked to insomnia drugs, but neurology chief Dr. Russell Katz said the agency uncovered more than a dozen reports — and is worried that more are going uncounted.

Given the millions of prescriptions for insomnia drugs, Katz called the problem rare, and said he was unaware of any deaths. But because sleep-driving is so dangerous — and there are precautions that patients can take — the FDA ordered a series of strict new steps Wednesday.