In 2010, it was reported that about one-third (20,793 out of 64,175) emergency department (ED) visits involving zolpidem resulted from overmedication. Zopidem is an approved medication for the short-term treatment of insomnia found in medications like Ambien (Sanofi Aventis), Ambien CR (Sanofi Aventis), Edular (Meda), Intermezzo (Purdue), and Zolpimist (ECR).
The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Report evaluated zolpidem involvement in ED visits that were linked to overmedication. Overmedication was defined as ED visits for patients who took medications prescribed or recommended for them and excludes patients who took a prescription drug not intended for them.
Among zolpidem-related ED visits involving overmedication in 2010, 37% involved zolpidem only. Over half of the visits (57%) involved other drugs combined with zolpidem (eg, benzodiazepines, narcotics, etc.). About 47% of zolpidem-related ED visits involving overmedication resulted in either a hospital admission or transfer (n=9,798). This includes approximately 2,501 visits (26%) that resulted in admission to a critical or intensive care unit (ICU), with 1,253 (50%) of these ICU admissions involving medications that are also central nervous system (CNS) depressants (eg, pain relievers, anti-anxiety, insomnia drugs).
Previous research had shown zolpidem in combination with other drugs or alcohol was associated with increased likelihood of being admitted or transferred to the ICU. In 2013, the FDA issued a safety communication that warned patients about driving or engaging in other activities that require complete mental alertness after taking zolpidem. Manufacturers were required to lower the recommended dose by half for females.
The report emphasized the importance of continued surveillance for overmedication of all drugs to improve public health and reduce healthcare costs.
For more information visit SAMHSA.gov.