Q. I’ve been taking Ambien off and on for years to help me sleep. It always worked like a charm.

The past few weeks I have had trouble falling asleep, though. This morning at 4 am I was still wide awake and realized that my prescription had been switched to generic zolpidem. This generic is NOT working.

I always thought generics were just as good as brands but now I have second thoughts. Ambien will cost me over $200 for 30 pills. What can I do?

A. We have heard from hundreds of visitors to our website about concerns with a variety of generic drugs. Many people have reported similar problems with some generic versions of Ambien (zolpidem).

We are sending you our Guide to Saving Money on Medicines with generic drug pros and cons plus advice on using these drugs safely. Certain generic products do work as expected. We would stick with the manufacturer of zolpidem that works for you.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Marla

    I couldn’t figure out why my Zolpidem (generic Ambien) stopped working last month. I researched and found that the generic pharmaceutical company now being used by my pharmacy was Torrent Pharmaceuticals. My blood pressure medication was also switched to Torrent and my bp had been higher than usual. Torrent is based in India. Something is wrong with the meds produced by this company. I have NEVER had an issue with generics until Torrent. I switched my prescriptions to my local Walmart which uses Northstar Pharmaceuticals for their generics, and everything is perfect again. I don’t understand how this can be happening in the 21st century!

  2. Sue

    My Healthcare provider refused to approve my prescription. A peach, oblong zolpidem with Logo 10 mg from CVS. Even if my Healthcare approved it would be $85. I used GOODRX to get what I thought was the same, zolpidem 10 mg, for $7.27. It is TEVA 74. I take half. One night it works wonderfully and then I take the other half of the pill and I hardly sleep at all. I really need sleep every night. I am totally useless today!!

  3. Paul

    Have used the Ambien generic, Zolpidem for a few years. The generic I used for the most part worked great. Then at my next refill the results were totally absent; the pharmacy changed to the Teva brand generic. In my opinion these are worthless and not worth the money. Over the counter works better than Teva generics. I had to change pharmacies to get the generic Northstar Zolpiden, which is a much superior sleep aid.

  4. sheila

    I would totally agree with all the comments concerning Zolpidem – Mfg. Teva. It does not work! I take a pill at night and I’m awake for hours….it isn’t until early morning that I might fall into a deep sleep but that’s when I should be getting up. It is very frustrating when you have trouble sleeping and no one….either your doctor or pharmacist takes you seriously. My insurance carrier denied my prescription for Ambien/Zolpidem…and will not honor it unless I have a diagnosis and a treatment plan for insomnia.

  5. Ruth

    Been taking Ambien for A few years now never had any problems until my pharmacy switched my version of Ambien to Teva Labs version! It totally did not agree with me at all !!have had horrible vivid dreams terrible leg leg aches so I am advising others who have had any of the symptoms that it could possibly be this version!not to mention the fact that it doesn’t even help me sleep.

  6. Janet
    Tucson AZ

    I used to get the 12.5 zolpidem ER and it worked very well. My insurance quit covering it so I had to go to zolpidem 10 mg. it is made by Teva and it simply does not work. I have thought it was just me but obviously we all want very much for it to work and it just doesn’t.

  7. Nancy

    I started on Ambien in ’94 and switched to the generic Zolpidem when it became available. I got the 10mg pills and would cut them in half, discovering that 5mg worked fine for me. A couple of months ago I received a 90-day supply of Zolpidem Tartrate, 10 mg, with “MFG TEVA USA” on the bottle. The pills are small, round and white, with TEVA engraved on one side and “74” on the other. This was the first time (in my recollection) that the shape of the pill had changed – it had always come in an oval form that was much easier to cut in half. I noticed quickly that the new pills did not work as well and had lingering side effects like sluggishness, headaches and dizziness that I had not experienced before. I’ve been busy and have delayed addressing the problem, but it has now degraded my quality of life so much that I must make it my top priority. I did a web search on “zolpidem teva” and found this discussion. It is of some comfort to know that others are experiencing similar reactions to the Teva pills. Mine are supplied through Prime Therapeutics, which is the drug company used by Florida Blue (Blue Cross). I’m not sure where to start addressing this – with Prime Therapeutics or my doctor – but writing this comment is my first step. I suppose I will call PT to voice my complaint and see if they will replace the pills with those from another manufacturer…

  8. Carol

    I have been taking generic Ambien for years. Last month my pharmacy changed my NorthStar brand to Teva right when I went out of town. I spent the next two weeks not sleeping. When I returned, the Target pharmacy had to call my doctor for a new prescription for the NorthStar brand and I had to pay twice for the month supply. Now they have told me they are not going to carry it any more; only Teva. I am in a panic calling pharmacies in my area. Target has recently merged with CVS.

    • Sandy

      I had this exact problem, a few years ago my Target switched from Northstar to Qualitest, since Qualitest didn’t work for me, they would special order the Northstar. Now that they are CVS, they will no longer do it- very frustrating. I tried the Teva- but it doesn’t work well for me either… Does anyone know what pharmacy uses Northstar?

  9. bryant

    I’ve never had any results with the torrent brand. The purple my land worked ok. All I can find now is north star. I’d say it’s on par with the others.

    • Kat

      It is 2:30 am and I am sitting in my bed wide awake. I used the Teva brand for ambien. This is the second time I tried this brand and it hasn’t worked either time. The other generic brands work just fine. Someone needs to report the Teva company. Insomnia might not seem like a serious illness, but let me tell you, it is. People who suffer from insomnia usually have many other health problems caused by a lack of sleep. If Teva is cheating, then someone needs to start a class action.

      • Keri

        I totally agree in regards to the Teva brand zolpidem. I’ve been on Ambien for years and have only had the Teva brand; however, I still have terrible insomnia and the health problems have began to multiply. I am searching for a generic that might actually work. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

        • Kimberly

          Yes how do we start a class action. I want to be involved. The white pill Teva is doing nothing for sleep.

        • Getta

          I was started pm Teva 5mg may repeat X1, 60 tabs per month in 2011. At one point, about a year to a year and a half ago, that Teva Brand got crappy. I have had to repeat the dose every single night or take two at once if I want to sleep. I have a horrible life without sleeping well, first with intense pain and headaches, and then within a week or two, severe infections that I can’t manage due to the low white cell count from not sleeping.

          I have been afraid to change because I knew how I could expect to sleep on Teva, BUT….Get this! When visiting my mom last Fall, I pulled the drawer out of the nightstand and saw a mini travel pill bottle of with two 2013 TEVA ZOIDEM from my last visit there. I took one and it works the way did used to, so I have not built up a “tolerance”. Today, DH came home with Northstar, so I’m going to try and pray they work. They LIE AND HIDE the ever cheapening, and less effective meds. Read about the Ranbaxy Scandal. Many of the brands you’re taking right now are made by parent company Ranbaxy. THEIR OWN EMPLOYEES GO FAR AND WIDE NOT TO USE THEM. I have a special nickname for Mallinckrodt (MallinCrap).

      • Heidi

        I have Been on Ambien for about 12 years, and aside from the brand name Ambien, the only generic that works for me is qualitest but my pharmacy said they are discontinuing it. Teva and Mylan both have never worked for me :(.

        I have chronic health issues, and when the pain is an 8 and don’t have the right corrected generic I have literally stayed awake for 34 hours! I have A severe chronic disease in the bladder, and MS to top it off!

        oh one more thing, there nights I wake up after a couple hours and have to take another one.. One dr suggested I take Benadryl? Well the same ingredients in sleep aids are anahistamines ! Well this girl doesn’t get tired off Benadryl.. My hubby does, my mom also would get hyper off it! …. Everyone’s body is different…I just want to sleep like normal people do! :( I just pray that someone , somewhere realizes what’s it doing to all of us that need it…..by giving us junk (I do have some other Teva meds, so I’m not saying its every script they make but the Ambien one they make is not for my DNA makeup for sure! Blessing to all you while we figure life out!

    • ursula
      lincoln, ca.

      Costco has northstar ambien.
      90 tabs $18. Cash price. Just picked it up today. June 2016

  10. Denise

    The generic brand Teva 74 is worthless!!! Just started it 2 weeks ago.. I’ve up my dosage to 2 1/2 and still no sleep… You be better off taking tic tacs… Don’t waste your money .. These pills need to be pulled off the shelf…..

  11. Denise

    VA switched me to the Teva 74 round white pill,.. Just as well take tic tacs!!! Worthless pills!!!! They don’t work at all !!! I’m 3 hours into takin 2, that’s right 2. I’m prescribed 1.. Still wide awake,, This has been going on for 2 weeks.. This pill needs to be removed from the market..

  12. Sierra

    Can anyone tell me if all the generics are made the same? I have been using 10mg of TEVA brand zolpidem tartrate for about 8 years due to insomnia caused by antidepressants I take. I have never had any problems, unless I mistakenly run out. I lost my job and don’t have insurance right now and I’m forced to buy my scripts at Costco. I never really considered different brands until I got home and saw the pills were different. I actually began to freak out somewhat. The pills say 10mg still, although they appear smaller. And they are by brand Northstar. I have been using them for 3 days and I cannot sleep! Is it all in my head? I thought or figured all generics had the same ingredients. I don’t know what to do. But I have a 90 day supply. I have been crying over this. I still have one refill. Since I don’t have insurance is it okay to go fill it and try to find a place that uses the TEVA BRAND? Or should I just keep trying the Northstar? Is it okay to take two of the Northstar pills? Thanks for any guidance!

    • Gary P
      Branson, MO

      This is a good question – I have been doing lots of reading trying to figure out the best generic brand. I am hit and miss with Teva, one night it works, the next night nothing. Oddly 3 out of the 4 pharmacies in my small town provide Teva. One of them provides Qualitest which I am going to try.

      Here is one thing I did notice, what works for some, does not work for others, in other words positive and negative reviews for almost all generic makes. I could not get a consensus at all for the best generic Ambien.

  13. Ron

    I’m a nightshift nurse. I have to take sleep meds to be able to fall asleep on *time* when needed.

    I take Mylan brand Restoril 15 or 30mg for about 6 or 8 months then rotate to a simple 25 or 50mg Diphenhydramine combined with OTC Melatonin 1mg or 3 mg. for awhile. This usually works also. I used to take 10mg Ambien, but I haven’t taken it since it went generic. Sounds like it maybe a serious “hit or miss” on it. If I do try one I may go with Mylan since I’ve had no problems with their Restoril.

    Regardless, I’ll try to return to this site & post my experience with it.

    All that said – there definitely *IS* a difference in different generics. Some are bad some are good; and a lot of it is about what works best with your system.

    Some can cause sugar spikes because of fillers. I know. Sounds weird – but I’ve seen it happen with other generics too.

    So do your research. And if your insurance allows your Doctor to write for the original brand name & your insurance will help make it affordable for you… then get it.

  14. D Jones

    Without one doubt–the generic Ambien does not work well at all-no matter the brand. My doctor has to write name brand only and my mail-in pharmacy fills RX with Ambien CR 12.5 mg. I was so excited when I was given the generic brand. But–it did not help me sleep at all.

  15. suzy

    I have had the same thing happen. What you can do is have the doctor write on your prescription no substitutes and your insurance will cover the name brand for 20, 40 or 60 dollars for your copay.

    If the she (your doctor) writes no substitutions then he/she is putting in the order to get the name brand. If you ask for the name brand it will not be covered under your insurance. Good luck!

  16. EMT

    I took Ambien CR last spring, and it worked the best for me of all the sleep aids I’ve tried — helped me fall asleep and stay asleep for 5-6 hours (regular Ambien helped with sleep initiation, but I woke up within 3 hours). This year I got a new prescription for Ambien CR and received a generic (about $3/pill). The results of the generic are inconsistent — sometimes I fall asleep right away, sometimes it takes me several hours (same time frame from my evening meals, same exercise/running regime, same bedtime/”wind down” routines). Sometimes I barely sleep at all (it’s as if I took a “dud”). And I don’t tend to stay asleep as long on the generic as I did on the name-brand.
    Overall it’s just been less effective and less consistent. The FNP who prescribed it was snide/rude to me when I explained these differences, said it was exactly the same and any loss of sleep is a “placebo effect” caused from my knowledge that I’m taking a generic. I take generic pills all the time and went into this fulling expecting it to work, so I think there’s more to it. These are marked “A-1” and I believe the manufacturer is Actavis Elizabeth. I’d recommend avoiding this brand if possible.

  17. JNM

    I have tried all of the generics of Ambien and Northstar is the only one that works for me. I have great luck with it and no luck with all others.

  18. Judy

    I received a refill for my Zolpidem from CVS-Caremark. I am Type 2 Diabetic and found that after taking 5 mg of this sleep aid, in the am, my sugar reading was higher than normal. I checked the bottle, cause the shape was different in the pill, and found another Pharm Co had filled this med. I am going to notify my Pharmacy that I do not want this Pharm Co refill again.
    I had this problem with another medication I took, and found out that it is hard to switch companies. Finally, my pharmacy got the correct med. There has to be something in this zolpidem refill that is causing my high sugar count. My normal refill is from another Pharm – Aurobonindo (I believe) the one I am using now is from Roxane. How does the FDA allow the generics to be produced differently? Unbelievable that we put our life on the line to take a prescribed medication and it could possibly kill us.

  19. PF

    I too noticed the difference between Ambien and the generics. I have taken several different generics. They are all different and I ask for which brand I want, by name and the pharmacy will order it, if they can get it. I had two brands which did not work for me at all. I had one generic brand which was BETTER than the Ambien. But the pharmacist cannot get it again.
    It is not anyone’s imagination. Once the pill is swallowed, you cannot fight off the effects. If you are still awake 3 hours later, then something is wrong with that tablet.
    Below is a link to a paper which says it is a patent description, it tells the reasons why there might be so much variation among the different brands of zolpidem. First, it appears that zolpidem tartrate comes in different forms.
    The fifth paragraph down, states that the proper formation is dependent on strict control of the crystallization process and the quality of starting materials. And in the sixth paragraph says that it has low physical stability; rough handling of the zolpidem tartrate in the manufacturing process can cause it to break down.
    I think the manufacturers of Ambien were very careful with their manufacturing process because they had a reputation to keep.

  20. SN

    I was switched to a different generic Ambien about 4 or 5 nights ago. I didn’t think anything about. The pills just went from a burgundy/brown color to white (and slightly different shape). I threw out my other bottle so I don’t know previous manufacturer! I have been falling asleep ok every night since the switch, but ever since first pill, I have been waking up early in the morning (before the sun comes up) and feeling wide awake. This hasn’t happened in a long time. I also felt really “happy” when the other pill “hit” me, but that hasn’t happened since the switch.

  21. gsb

    I too was given generic Ambien (10MG) and it didn’t work. I have been complaining to my son who is my pharmacist about generics.
    He said the generics are just as good as name brands. I had three different generic brands of Ambien that didn’t work. At that point he believed me and ordered from his supplier the same looking pill that the original pill looked like. He then told me that was what the pharmacists’ are told in pharmacy school. He went to pharmacy school many years ago, I don’t know if they are saying it today.
    There is a web site (sorry I forgot the name) that can tell you who the manufacturer is of each pill. I researched and found the pill I wanted and the pills I didn’t want.

  22. Sleep Deprived...

    In an odd sort of way, it’s helpful to see that others are struggling with sleep as much as I am… I’m wishing us all sweet dreams.

  23. no

    I read about Ambien (the real thing) versus the generic on another site. I believe it was a message board. Many people find that the generic does not work, or, only certain brands of generics work. They travel from CVS, to Walgreen’s, to Walmart, etc. looking for the brand that works best for them. Two brands I recall are TEVA and Northstar.
    This past month the pharmacy clerk told me that my Zolpidem (generic for Ambien) would look different because it was a different manufacturer. Since I read this Q & A, I got out all of the pharmacy info inserts I could find for Zolpidem. I have the abbreviations: NORT, ROXA, and TORR. I don’t know which one worked best, maybe none, but this last one is Northstar and I have been awake all night on it.
    I have taken more than one 10 mg. tablet, and extra Klonopins to get to sleep. Last week I bet I had 13 hours sleep in 5 days. I stay awake reading or get up and try to use up this extra energy by researching the Internet. I get some wild ideas and think I am going to do the impossible when daylight comes. Then after some sleep over the weekend, I realized I was manic and my ideas were ridiculous.
    1.) What do those abbreviations stand for?, 2.) Has anybody gotten manic or lost hours and hours of sleep on generic Ambien?
    Thank you.

  24. Karen C.

    I have been taking 10 mg. of Ambien’s generic Zolpidem for many years. I just looked at my past years’ pharmacy receipts to see if they give the manufacturer with all the other information. I remember reading about this same topic on another website and consumers were comparing TEVA brand to Northstar. Some chased around to CVS to Walgreen’s to Walmart looking for the brand that worked for them.
    The last refill I got about a month ago, the pharmacy tech alerted me that what I was receiving was Ambien/Zolpidem from a different manufacturer and it would look different but be the same ingredients.It is Northstar.
    Oh boy. I haven’t slept well since. I slept 1 hour last Friday. I have been up all night with lots of energy, weepy, almost manic in the crazy ideas I come up with in the night. I thought it was from something else. Now I know better.
    Some of the abbreviations to the brands are NORT, ROXA, TORR. Please Doctors Graedon, who are these manufacturers?
    Will my psychiatrist believe me? Please name other sleeping medications. Thank you.

  25. CK

    You may want to try getting a generic filled at a different pharmacy that uses a different manufacturer. I have found that the generic for Percocet is different at Walgreens and CVS. The manufacturer Walgreens used worked great, the one at CVS gave me hallucinations and a mild panic attack. Perhaps Ambien generics work the same.

  26. CSO

    I have taken Ambien then Ambien CR then Zolpidem for over 10 years on a daily basis. The best night’s sleep I have had in that time period is when I accidentally took 2 ambien 10mg. I thought I was taking 2 5mg!
    I have had mixed results with zolpidem. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. I have been off zolpidem for 3 weeks now with one exception. Slight change in sleep pattern.

  27. lubsie

    Without my approval, I was given a generic substitute for Ambien, the generic drug simply did not work for me, I was awake till 7AM. The pharmacist insisted that the generic version was the same drug, only with different fillers. I persisted that my RX be refilled with the same brand name that I purchased in the past, I would not be paying $50 for a generic that does not work. Why is it easier to return defective products at Canadian Tire than to return defective drugs back to a pharmacy?
    Years ago, I was given a generic for “550 Sodium Naproxene”, I had no relief for my post surgical pain for the entire evening. Again, the pharmacist insisted that the generic tablets were exactly the same. WRONG!
    The brand name tablet brought me total relief within 15 minutes.
    Shame on the pharmaceutical companies enriching their bottom lines by shorting real meds in many generic prescriptions.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.