sleepy woman with alarm clock, sleep without zolpidem, acupressure wrist bands

We have received so many complaints about generic Ambien that we have lost count. We notified the FDA years ago about this problem but so far there seems to be no interest in finding out what the problems are. Here are some readers who are thoroughly frustrated:

Q. I recently filled a zolpidem prescription and was given a generic from an unfamiliar company. When I took it I was unable to sleep. I felt agitated and my restless legs syndrome was almost unbearable.

I don’t take zolpidem frequently, but I have used it occasionally over a number of years. This experience was jolting.

I would like to send these pills out for testing. Is there a lab that could analyze them?

A. Sadly, the cost of having your generic zolpidem pills analyzed would probably be exorbitant. The FDA rarely runs tests itself on generic drugs. Usually it relies on the manufacturer to submit such data.

We have heard from dozens of other readers who have also had trouble with some generic versions of zolpidem. Here are a few examples of similar complaints found on our website:

“I have been taking name-brand Ambien for ten years. When I began, my co-pay was $50. Now it is $110, and my physician has to get prior approval for me to have the name brand.

“I have twice been given a generic by mistake and had a horrible experience. I could not sleep and had hallucinations and anxiety.

“Both times I called the pharmacy and found the prescription had been filled with generic even though I was charged for the name brand. I would NEVER knowingly take a generic again.”

Other Stories from readers:

Leslie in Leadville, CO:

“It’s nice to see that I’m not alone in the sleepless generic world. Briefly, I’ve been on Ambien and generic Ambien (zolpidem) for years. Never had a problem up until 3 months ago, when my pharmacy gave me some purple coated pills that I Googled to verify it was actually zolpidem. After several weeks of this generic thing and barely sleeping, I went to my doc & asked for help.

“We decided to try other sleeping aids (though I’ve tried most of them already). The first one, Sonata, gave me heartburn & I was WIDE AWAKE all night for three nights in a row; the second one was NOT what I requested (Belsomra).

“I’m just so tired, not just literally from not sleeping well, but also tired of having to deal with the pharmaceutical industry that is only out to make money. The companies don’t care! Insurance companies are right in cahoots with them because they’re making all the extra money when we try new things because they don’t cover the more expensive, more quality pharmaceuticals that the patients use & trust. I’m so sick of this! Sleepless in the Rockies!”

Chris offered some interesting insights on zolpidem:

“Further thoughts on generic Ambien. The one everyone universally loved was made by a company named Qualitest. It was the hands down best for me too and I used it exclusively for years.

“Unfortunately Qualitest stopped manufacturing it this year and now it’s gone. Ive gone through the hit and miss of many generic companies. I can say with certainty that generic company X does nothing for me; it’s weak. Company Y’s generic zolpidem makes you cra-cra-crazy. Delusions and stuff.

“I’m now sticking with Mylan for the time being and it’s not horrible. Not horrible is the biggest compliment I can give to any Ambien generic because they are all basically different levels of bad. Unfortunately my insurance removed brand Ambien from even the highest copay tier.”

There are dozens of other reports of problems with generic Ambien at this link:

Not All Generic Forms of Zolpidem Induce Sleep for Traveling Couple

Contact the FDA here about Generic Ambien:

Although we have been unimpressed with the FDA’s response to our concerns about generic drug problems we urge everyone to report directly to the MedWatch system. Here is a link to the FDA’s adverse event reporting page.

If you would like to learn more about dealing with sleeplessness and the various alternate approaches to dealing with insomnia, you may find our recently revised Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep of interest. It is 20 pages long.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

If you want to find ways to access brand name Ambien at a lower cost, here is a link to our Guide to Saving Money on Medicines with information about accessing brand name drugs for substantially less. It is also 20 pages long and was recently revised.

Saving Money on Medicines

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  1. Allen

    My wife and I have been on several different versions of zolpedim over the years. The first version knocked us out and kept us out. But the generics don’t make us sleepy and if they do work it is all at once with no feeling. Most of the time I can take most that the perscribed dose and be awake all night and watch the sun come up without gettting sleepy at ll. They need to go back to the real stuff.

  2. Francine
    Chicago, IL

    I have been fighting chronic insomnia since the early nineties. I have been taking Zolpidem ER for years, and it was working wonderfully. However, my last prescription from Walgreens was filled with a larger two toned pill with the number 308 printed on it. I did not sleep the first night, and though it was a fluke. After more than a week of little, very unrefreshing sleep, I called the pharmacy and was told Walgreens had changed their manufacturer from Actavis to Sun Pharmaceuticals. The lack of sleep has negatively affected every aspect of my existence, my work, daily functions, social life and role as sole caregiver of an elderly parent. I am a basket case.

    • Susy
      El Paso, TX

      I had the exact situation as Francine. I also use Walgreens. The Actavis generic worked well for me for many years. The Sun generic has been awful. I’ve been on it for two months and can honestly say that it does not work. After pestering the pharmacy to put me back on Actavis, they finally told me Actavis has been bought. They do not know who bought it, and whether they will continue to manufacture zolpidem. This is very frustrating, to say the least.

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