September 1, 2008

John McCain’s on Ambien. So much for being ready for that 3 a.m. call. One humorous doctor said, "The key is to use Ambien-like sleeping medications in moderation and don’t mix them with other sedative drugs or alcohol … Most importantly, avoid use in the event you have to consider escalation from Defcon 4 to Defcon 3."

Ambien, America’s best-selling prescription sleeping pill, is showing up with regularity as a factor in traffic arrests, sometimes involving drivers who later say they were sleep-driving and have no memory of taking the wheel after taking the drug. In some state toxicology laboratories Ambien makes the top 10 list of drugs found in impaired drivers.

26.5 million Ambien scripts are written every year. (As of 2007).

Ambien’s maker, Sanofi-Aventis, says the drug’s record after 13 years of use in this country shows it is safe when taken as directed. …A spokeswoman for the F.D.A. said the drug’s current label warnings, which say it should not be used with alcohol and in some cases could cause sleepwalking or hallucinations, were adequate.

Ambien is the sleep aid that was at the center of a class action lawsuit after users noticed bizarre side effects, like getting up in the middle of the night and cooking huge meals, then leaving the burners at full blast and going back to bed. I remember reading one man’s account. He said he heard sounds from the kitchen and found his wife tearing open a package of hamburger buns, "like a grizzly bear."

Still, some sleep experts maintained that the rarity of these side effects, coupled with the wide use of the drug, make it unlikely that a problem would arise if the commander-in-chief were taking the pills.

"I suspect that drugs like Ambien are used very commonly by government officials, particularly when crossing time zones," noted Dr. Donald W. Greenblatt, director of the Strong Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

John McCain is not a bad man, it is simply not proper for the guy with his finger on the button to be medicated.

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