Drivin' with your eyes closed?*

Anyone who watches the evening news has likely been aware for years that they are either part of the pharmaceutical industry's target market, or outnumbered by that market's members.

Every other commercial during the news hour, or so it seems, promotes some drug or medical treatment, which conditioned me long ago to tune out the warning list near the end.

But this evening I was so struck by what I thought was said in a commercial for the drug Lunesta that I went to the Web site to confirm I'd heard it right:

"Call your doctor right away if after taking Lunesta you walk, drive, eat or engage in other activities while asleep."

Where do you start the conversation about a side effect like driving "while asleep?"

*With apologies to Don Henley.



** UPDATE:The New York Times published a story in March 2006 about "the Ambien driver," which said: "Ambien, the nation'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 ... [SNIP] ... 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."

The Web site for Ambien CR notes the following: "Sleepwalking, and eating or driving while not fully awake, with amnesia for the event, have been reported."

CBS Investigates produced a story in August 2007 about "a common television ad for restless leg syndrome (RLS)" which also included "an unusual side effect: gambling."


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