Sleep-driving again? This explains a lot.

Here at the ALLDERBLOB we keep an eye out for news of the impending autocalypse Down, Fido! Down! at all times. It is perhaps no coincidence that our lobsight is constantly muddied by the crap spun up from the wheels in front of us. Especially lately, with spring in Toronto and a lot of melting on the roads, we have been inundated with spam messages offering access to a cornucopia of delights. Tramadol? Get it here. Tranny doll? Get it here. Etcetera.

Not surprisingly, we have recently upgraded our spam filter (Hello, Akismet!). We will miss those uninvited offers of cheap Ambien. Not.

But Ambien will not miss us, we are sure. After all, it’s this little sleeping pill, along with 12 other “prescription sedative-hypnotic medications approved to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders” that has been in the news lately. Apparently they are to blame for a rash of incidents where folks go to bed after taking the medication, only to find themselves behind the wheel of their car, jolted awake after some terrible crash. How many of them don’t wake up? And how many of them manage a “round trip,” after who knows what dastardly “hit and run” event?

Fact is, we can’t escape the tyranny of “Auto-space” [no, not that auto-space. This auto-space. –ed.]. To exist in the world is to struggle with the car at every turn.

In our very first post here at the ALLDERBLOB, we reported on the significance of the 20% of drivers who “admit” falling asleep at the wheel. Now it seems we need to worry about drivers who fall asleep in bed, too.

What’s the solution? Outlaw sleeping? We don’t think so. Outlaw driving? You’re getting warmer. Sue the bastids? Hot indeed.

We at the ALLDERBLOB say only that it’s past time to expand the car-free zones of the city.
We have appeased the non-smokers. What about the non-drivers? Andy Singer CARtoon

And of course, it’s past time to ban car advertising in all its forms.

We were alerted to the issue by our own local paper, the Toronto Star and Car Advertiser, which issued this dry little note on the business pages shortly before ALLDERBOB day this year. We leave you with the full text of the article, to ponder at your leisure:

U.S. sounds alarm on sleeping pills

Mar 15, 2007
Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON–Popular sleep drugs such as Ambien and Lunesta can cause odd and potentially dangerous behaviours such as driving while asleep as well as severe allergic reactions that warrant stronger warnings, U.S. health officials said yesterday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration called for the new cautions on 13 prescription sedative-hypnotic medications approved to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders, but said its concerns were not serious enough to withdraw the drugs.

Many of the drugs can be used safely, said Dr. Steven Galson, head of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, but data collected since their approval raised concerns.

“After reviewing the available post-marketing adverse event information for these products, FDA concluded that labelling changes are necessary to inform health-care providers and consumers about risks,” he said.

Those risks include doing various activities such as driving while asleep – so-called “sleep driving” – without any recollection afterward, the FDA said. Patients taking the drugs were also found to make phone calls, have sex, eat and cook while asleep.

Severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis and severe facial swelling called angioedema can also occur, even with the first dose.

The warnings target Sepracor Inc.’s Lunesta and Sanofi-Aventis’s Ambien as well as drugs made by Abbott Laboratories, Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd. and Tyco International Ltd.’s Tyco Healthcare, the agency said.

Both Lunesta and Ambien are available in Canada.

Health Canada’s website has only posted one advisory or warning for a sleep drug in the past two years. That advisory, posted Feb. 23, was for Sleepees, a herbal sleeping pill, which Health Canada warned can be habit-forming and cause confusion and memory loss. Sleepees isn’t legally sold in Canada.

Dr. Russell Katz, of FDA’s neurology division, told reporters he could not say how many cases of sleep-driving and other side effects had been reported but said they were rare. He added it was likely such incidents were underreported by consumers and doctors.

Researchers say they have noted dozens of dangerous cases of sleepwalking and other behaviour in patients taking such drugs.

Most manufacturers have agreed to place the stronger warnings on their product labels except for one, which Katz declined to identify. The FDA also recommended manufacturers of sleep drugs conduct trials to see how often the risks affect patients taking their particular product.

With files from Josh Wingrove

One Response to “Sleep-driving again? This explains a lot.”

  1. blobby says:

    Akismet? Gesundheit!

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