ER Visits for Sleep Drug Overmedication Almost Doubles

The number of emergency department visits involving the sleep medication zolpidem (the active ingredient in Ambien) almost doubled over four years, according to new report. Zolpidem is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for short-term treatment of insomnia and is the active ingredient in the popular sleep aids Ambien®, Ambien CR®, Edluar®, and Zolpimist® In 2010, approximately one third or 20,793 of the 64,175 emergency department (ED) visits involving zolpidem resulted from overmedication. This report examines zolpidem involvement in ED visits that are related to overmedication, which may occur when a patient takes too much of their own medications (i.e., exceeds the prescribed or recommended dose). Overmedication visits may involve multiple medications, but this analysis excludes visits that involved an illicit drug or prescription medications that were not prescribed for the patient or that were the result of a drug-related suicide attempt. All drugs involved in visits attributed to overmedication are documented; however, for visits involving multiple pharmaceuticals, it is not known which specific drug or drugs were taken in excess.