Ambien Makers To Roseanne: Racism Is Not A Known Side Effect

By Bryan Le 06/04/18

Rosanne Barr blamed the sleep medication for a tweet where she compared a former White House aide to an ape.

Roseanne at her book signing
Roseanne Barr received backlash for both her tweet and apology.

After an offensive tweet that cost TV star Roseanne Barr her rebooted show, she tried to lay the blame on the sleep aid Ambien.

"muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” read the original tweet by Barr, referring to Valerie Jarett, a former Obama White House aide.

The reaction came swiftly, with public condemnations of the tweet leading to the cancellation of her recently rebooted television show, Roseanne.

Barr apologized, mentioning that she was “Ambien tweeting,” referring to the drug’s alleged tendency to lead users to engage in bizarre behaviors. Sanofi, the pharmaceutical company that produces Ambien, shot back.

"While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication,” the pharma company’s representatives tweeted.

Still, experts confirm that it is indeed true that tweeting while on Ambien isn’t a great idea.

“People could text or tweet while on Ambien and not remember,” said Dr. Rachel Salas, an associate professor of neurology at the Sleep Medicine Division at John Hopkins Medicine. She adds that while using sleep medications, people should avoid sleeping close to their electronic devices.

Ambien has been blamed by many for a range of strange sleepwalking incidents.Golfer Tiger Woods was found asleep in his car on the highway with Ambien in his system.

A woman in a class action lawsuit against Sanofi-Aventis claimed that she “ate hundreds of calories of food, including raw eggs, uncooked yellow rice, cans of vegetables, loaves of bread, bags of chips and bags of candy” under the influence of Ambien.

The claims aren’t always so harmless. Robert Stewart, who went into a rehab and nursing home in North Carolina with a gun and shot eight people to death and wounded two others, was able to escape the death penalty and receive life in prison instead after his lawyers successfully argued that he was under the influence of Ambien at the time.

Such incidents have raised concerns at the FDA, which recommends the dose be lowered from 10 mg to 5 mg. They also warn that besides the strange behaviors, Ambien can cause nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, diarrhea, and abnormal thinking alongside changes in behavior. In some cases, hallucinations may manifest.

“Visual and auditory hallucinations have been reported as well as behavioral changes such as bizarre behavior, agitation and depersonalization,” the FDA warns.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter