sleepy businessman yawning

Q. I have suffered with insomnia for years. My doctor prescribed Ambien, which gives me eight hours of restful sleep. Then the pharmacist switched me to generic zolpidem for under $15. He said it was identical to Ambien.

It wasn’t! I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since switching. If I do fall asleep I have horrible nightmares. I cannot afford $130 for regular Ambien. What else can I do? I need my sleep to be alert at work.

A. Dozens of other readers have also reported problems with generic Ambien (zolpidem). If your insurance company won’t cover the brand name medicine, you may wish to consider some non-drug options. They include a small high-carb bedtime snack such as milk and graham crackers, dietary supplements such as magnesium, melatonin, passionflower or valerian, a hot bath an hour before retiring and acupressure wristbands.

We describe these approaches and others in greater detail in our newly revised Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. We also discuss OTC sleeping pills and prescription drugs such as Lunesta, Sonata and Rozerem.

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  1. Angela

    I have a diagnosed sleep disorder and severe pain and Ambien has worked with my low dose hydrocodone for years, but now I’m given generic Zolpidem and it doesn’t work at all, and can’t be cut in half, which I’ve done with the other generics. I was an RN for 40 years but since being injured I need these meds. I try to take as little as possible of anything but now I can’t sleep and I can’t cut the hydrocodone in half either and no one listens (doctor or pharmacists) that the Zolpidem doesn’t work. Not sleeping is making me more ill, my blood pressure won’t even go down. We all do need to get these checked because I think they have no ingredients but fillers.

  2. Beau

    All I ever can afford is generic. This would include ALL my medications. The only good thing about Zolpidem, if the pharmacy goofs up, or my primary care physician’s assistant forgets to refill it in a manner in which I’ve run out, (this has occurred several times) at least it doesn’t have withdrawal symptoms. Never mind all the herbal concoctions, or a glass of warm milk (ick!). Zolpidem clearly states on the bottle, it’s to be taken on an empty stomach. I do take 2,000 mgs. of L-Tryptophan, which half the amount is recommended, recommended by my Primary Care Physician. If following this type of routine, 3-4 hours of sleep is the best I’ve ever gotten from taking 10 mgs of Zolpidem. My insomnia is severe, and chronic at this state. I wish there was something more effective out there.

  3. Lisa

    I’ve had the same problem with generic Lunesta. When I took Lunesta I felt great and even started a side business. The generic has the opposite effect, I feel lousy, and have no energy and it causes me to have constant pain in my side. The government says they are the same because the industry has them in their pocket. It is a lie and we all know it. I feel the government and insurance companies are forcing me to take a medication that is harming my health, while taking away the one medication that gives me a life. Also, anyone with a real sleep disorder knows that all the little tips and tricks people recommend do not work for major sleep disorders.

  4. H

    I just got a 90 day prescription of a generic Ambian that does not work at all. I feel that not only I , but my pharmacist is being cheated. I get a very specific vision side effect with the other companie’s pill along with a good night’s sleep. Also the new generic is a little round pill that cannot be broken in half, unlike the previous generic which is a little scored oblong. I think that we should all get together and have these medications tested by a drug laboratory and if the zolpiedem is not 10 mg. like it was supposed to be, then a class action suit should happen.

  5. Sue
    Orange County CA

    I had been taking Zolpidem from Target for many years. They just switched to North Star. It does not work. I had experienced this once before when I believe Costco switched to North Star so I switched my prescription over. I just looked up what the one intact caplet (I break the 10 mg and try to take only half most nights,) that I had left. It is from Vintage Pharmacies and that one worked well. I got away with half to three quarters of the tablet most nights. The Northstar is very hard to break for one and doesn’t work even when I take the whole pill. Does anyone know where the Vintage Pharmaceuticals version is? It has a V on one side and 6469 on the other. I really can’t afford the full price of the name brand either.

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