When a commercial for sleeping pills comes on television or you seen an advertisement in a magazine, you may glaze over the exhaustive list of warnings and side effects. Pharmaceutical companies are required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to list the potential dangers and side effects in any marketing campaign, but that does not mean consumers always pay attention. Furthermore, if your doctor tells you a sleeping pill may be well-suited for your needs, you may not question his or her judgement.
Sleeping pills have a pretty innocuous reputation in society. In fact, many popular television shows and celebrities regularly mention their helpfulness in daily life. Although sleeping pill prescriptions have been a trend (and a lifesaver) for people struggling with mental health issues, insomnia, and other conditions, there are some real concerns consumers may not be taking into account.
Dangers of sleeping pills you should consider include:
- Unusual sleeping behaviors. Complex sleeping behaviors are a well-known side effect of many popular prescription sleep aids. Some people will raid the refrigerator and eat a full meal and will not discover the evidence until the morning after. Others have gotten into their cars and had car accidents in their sleep. The amount and type of medication can affect people differently during sleep, making this side effect a very real and dangerous possibility.
- Addiction. Prescription sleeping pills are never meant for long-term use. They are either prescribed as a temporary solution or as a training aid to help get the body’s sleeping schedule back on track. People who take the pills for longer than recommended may find they have an even harder time falling asleep naturally. With extended use, these pills may exacerbate the original problem instead of helping.
- Day after effects. Prescription sleep aids supposedly prevent users from experiencing the lingering grogginess often associated with over-the-counter solutions, but prescriptions do cause after-effects in some individuals. A few of the effects users may experience the morning after include clouded thinking, grogginess, sleepiness, or feeling unsafely medicated. The effects could cause someone to fall asleep while operating heavy machinery, to fall down, or to experience another kind of accident.
- Long-term effects. This concern affects any medication that has not been out on the market for more than 25-50 years. Today, studies are beginning to connect the prolonged use of prescription sleep aids with increased risk of death and cancer. Taking as few as 18 pills in one year could increase the risk of death by almost four times compared to those who do not take sleep aids at all. Benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines were included in the study, as well as barbiturates and some antihistamines.
- Mental health changes. Sleeping pills have also been known to cause mood changes and psychosis. Side effects listed on many medications include an increased risk of depression, and in some cases, the experience of hallucinations. The warnings on the prescriptions urge anyone experiencing suicidal inclinations to seek medical attention immediately.
Can Listed Side Effects Be Grounds for a Lawsuit?
Although many of these dangerous side effects and warnings are listed plainly on the labels and information packets provided with medications, there may still be room for legal action depending on the situation. For instance, if your physician prescribed you a dose well above the recommended guidelines or if you were erroneously told the medication is okay to take for long periods of time, a medical malpractice lawsuit may prove the act was in fact malpractice. If you have been adversely affected by the dangers of using a sleep aid, contact our office to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer in West Virginia today. We can help you understand your legal options and pursue a claim if possible.