The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Psych drug ER visits total almost 90,000 yearly; drug in Ambien among the culprits, study says

  • Print

CHICAGO - Bad reactions to psychiatric drugs result in nearly 90,000 emergency room visits each year by U.S. adults, with anti-anxiety medicines and sedatives among the most common culprits, a study suggests.

A drug used in some popular sleeping pills was among the most commonly involved sedatives, especially in adults aged 65 and older.

Most of the visits were for troublesome side effects or accidental overdoses and almost 1 in 5 resulted in hospitalization.

The results come from an analysis of 2009-2011 medical records from 63 hospitals that participate in a nationally representative government surveillance project. The study was published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry.

Overall, the sedative zolpidem tartrate, contained in Ambien and some other sleeping pills, was involved in almost 12 per cent of all ER visits and in 1 out of 5 visits for older adults.

The Food and Drug Administration last year approved label changes for those pills recommending lower doses because of injury risks including car crashes from morning drowsiness. Head injuries and falls in adults using zolpidem-containing drugs were among reasons for ER visits in the new study.

Sanofi, the pharmaceutical company that makes Ambien, includes a warning in its prescribing information that says the drug can cause "impaired alertness and motor co-ordination." It also says doctors should "caution patients against driving and other activities requiring complete mental alertness the morning after use."

Sanofi issued a statement Wednesday after the study was published noting that the FDA approved Ambien in 1992 based on data showing the drug is safe and effective.

Drs. Lee Hampton and Daniel Budnitz of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's health care quality promotion division led the study. The authors cited previously published national data showing that ER visits for bad reactions to zolpidem increased 220 per cent from 2005 to 2010.

"The FDA's recent efforts to modify recommended dosing regimens hold promise" for reducing zolpidem-related problems, the authors said. But they also said doctors can help by recommending that patients use other insomnia treatments first, including better sleep habits and behaviour therapy.

Bad reactions to other psychiatric medicines in the study included mental disturbances, heart-related symptoms and intestinal problems.

The study notes that nearly 27 million U.S. adults used prescription drugs to treat mental illness in 2011, so only a fraction of them had bad reactions resulting in ER treatment. Still, the authors say doctors need to weigh the benefits and risks before prescribing psychiatric medicines.

___

Online:

JAMA Psychiatry: http://jamapsychiatry.com

FDA: http://www.fda.gov

___

AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/LindseyTanner

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Raw: Video shows destroyed West Hawk Inn

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Two baby tigers were unveiled at the Assiniboine Park Zoo this morning, October 3rd, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should panhandling at intersections be banned?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google