WASHINGTON (AP) — All sleeping pills, including the blockbusters Ambien and Lunesta, may sometimes cause a bizarre but dangerous side effect — sleep-driving, the Food and Drug Administration warned Wednesday.
It’s like sleepwalking but behind-the-wheel: driving while not fully awake after using a sleeping aid — with no memory of doing so.
The FDA ordered the makers of 13 products to strengthen warnings on their labels about two rare but serious side effects:
• Sleep-driving, along with other less dangerous “complex sleep-related behaviors” — like making phone calls or fixing and eating food while still asleep.
• And life-threatening allergic reactions, as well as severe facial swelling, both of which can occur the first time the pills are taken.
I would hope that some savvy pharma marketer somewhere can turn these developments into a catchy new direct-to-consumer promotion – maybe a mashup of Lunesta’s soothing butterfly with the Ford Edge campaign. But we shouldn’t joke about these things. Seriously.