Sanofi-Aventis’Ambien (zolpidem) may unlock a desire to eat in some patients, leading the drug’s users to sometimes sleepwalk into their kitchens and consume calories in the thousands, according to a report in The New York Times.
Dr. Mark Mahowald, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis, is researching the problem and preparing a scientific paper based on his findings, the newspaper reported.
Sanofi-Aventis spokesperson Melissa Feltmann told The Times that the company has received reports of people eating while sleepwalking, and those reports, like all reports of adverse events, have been provided to the FDA.
Feltmann said the package insert for Ambien warns that a sleep-related eating disorder may occur, but she cautioned that every case reported in patients taking Ambien might not necessarily be caused by the drug.
Ambien’s growth has been fueled partly by consumer advertising.
Sanofi-Aventis spent $130 million in consumer advertising in 2005, more than double the $61 million it spent in 2004, according to figures released by TNS Media Intelligence.