Zolpidem scripts dive after ‘bizarre and dangerous’ side effects

Analysis of data from the BEACH (Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health) study showed prescriptions for zolpidem rose from 0.04 per 100 insomnia problems in 2000 to a peak of 15.4 in 2006, falling to 7.3 by 2009.

 “Our study shows that all the publicity about [zolpidem] side-effects did have an effect on prescribing,” said Dr Nathaniel Marshall, research fellow and clinical senior lecturer in sleep medicine at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Sydney.

“People are still prescribing it, but it’s half as popular as what it once was.”

The warning followed reports of “bizarre and sometimes dangerous” behaviour such as sleepwalking and sleep-driving.

The study, which quantified prescription rates for the leading hypnotics over the decade, found 93–99% of patients with insomnia were prescribed drug treatment. 

Temazepam, historically the leading hypnotic in Australia, fell out of favour as