sleepy woman with alarm clock, sleep without zolpidem

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

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. Russell

    I’ve had insomnia and I’ve found that Seroquel works pretty well, taken about an hour before bedtime. The higher the dose, the more sedation.

  2. Loueita

    I am just about to go on Medicare something or other (it’s so confusing). A book I have tells me what prescriptions one option covers, so I looked on my bottle of Zolpidem to see if it’s covered. Still not sure. Zolpidem Tartrate Extended Release is NOT covered, but Zolpidem Immediate Release is a Tier 2 drug. I’m prescribed 10 mg but I very, very rarely take more than half. The mfg is Northstar. I know Apotek was the mfg in the past and haven’t noticed the difference. I don’t care if I’m addicted. I get a great night’s sleep and no side effects. Sometimes vivid dreams, but that’s ok. No nightmares, no sleep-walking. Just sleep. In my own bed with my snoring husband. I feel very fortunate after reading some of these comments. And grateful.

  3. Danielle

    I was just recently prescribed the generic for Ambien called Zolpidem 5 mg. It says the manufacturer is TEVA. I took one pill hoping to finally get a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, it’s 3 hours later, and I’m still awake! Should I contact my doctor and request actual Ambien and not a generic brand?

  4. Lana

    When insurance forced me to go to generic ambien i initially had a fairly good experience. Now i am paying out of pocket and this past year I have not slept well on current meds. I take 12.5 to keep me asleep but it takes me forever to doze off and wake and doze the rest of the night. Pharmacy has given me meds by Sun Pharma Glo and Lupin Pharmacy. Neither works. I would go back to Ambien if I could but cost is prohibitive ($500 range). Generics should be required to meet same standards as original med.

  5. Steph

    I have been taking Ambien for years. It helped me greatly, as I still have pain from 5 breast cancer surgeries. Was just given the generic and cannot sleep. Feel like a walking zombie. Afraid to drive my car. How can these drug companies do this to people? There should be some law against it.

  6. Sue

    I feel that it does not work. I took Ambien for a few years. Ambien worked great. I’ve taken two zolpiderm today over 4 hours. Nothing I can not fall asleep. This has happened a bunch of times. I think they have changed the compound. This should be investigated. It’s ripping off people who pay for this drug to not be effective.


  7. Tiffany
    Glen Burnie, MD

    I was taking Ambien for years to help with my insomnia and had no issues or symptoms, other than a good nights sleep. About a year ago, I was switched over to the generic brand Zolpidem and I started to have symptoms. At first my doctor wasn’t sure as to what my symptoms were coming from, but over time we came to realize it was the generic form of Ambien that I was put on. I started to have sever diarrhea, nausea and no sleep, on a daily basis. I had gone to the GI doctor to rule out anything GI related, with no help at all. After evaluated my medications (which have been the exact same for about 10 years now), the only change was the generic form of my Ambien. I’ve stopped taking it and feel much better, but haven’t had a nights sleep in weeks. I honestly do know what I’m suppose to do now.

  8. Tammy

    There is definitely a difference in some of the generic ambien. One company is worse than some of the others and that is Torrent. I’ve used generic for awhile and some are not bad, but the company Torrent’s generic Ambien is useless. I don’t sleep with Torrent and I can barely function and afraid to drive because of no sleep.

  9. Mary J. L.

    I have been taking zolpidem (ambien) 6.5 for over 15 years due to cancer treatments. These last 5 to 6 pink refills have me physically feeling bad. I’m weak. Sleepy, have no energy anxiety. I can’t function. Have headaches.

  10. Stephen
    Seattle, WA

    I have had the same experience. Ambien is the only effective sleep med I can tolerate. I’ve tried every sleep med ever made–most don’t work for me. Only Ambien and Lunesta work, but Lunesta is intolerable due to the horrific metallic taste I experience for a day or two afterward. The brand name Ambien works reliably, but the various generic ones I’ve been given have no effect whatsoever! My sleep issues are severe and damaging my life.

    I am usually an A student, but yesterday, I slept through half of a midterm after two restless nights, and I didn’t come close to finishing, or even being able to think through the problems I did rush through. Now I will need a near perfect grade on everything else just to pass, and I fear barely passing this critical class will prevent my acceptance to grad school in the Fall. With another midterm tomorrow, I am still wide awake at 1:00 a.m. in spite of taking ambien at 9:30 and doing everything right. How are they allowed to get away with selling this snake oil? Where can I register a complaint?

    • Russell

      You might try a low dose of seroquel about an hour before you want to sleep. 100 or 200 mgs. works quite well.

  11. Bobby

    With Ambien I sleep 5+ hours every night. With generic Zolpidem I sleep 3-4 hours if at all. Many nights it may take 3-4 hours after taking the pill before I can fall asleep. Then I only get a few hours of sleep after that. Some nights I get no sleep at all. There is no way generic Zolpidem is identical quality to Ambien name brand.

  12. Alisha

    I have to take ambien every night or i wont sleep a wink. And the ones i usually get are generic small and long and peach colored and they always work. But this i was given the round white ones with teva 74 on them and they dont do anything but make me wide awake then ill get to feeling anxious

    • sue

      I always got the oval tablets. This time Kinneys where I just started to get them last week gave me TEVO do the opposite what they supposed to do.

    • Kathy

      Ditto for me! I was using the peach colored ones for years and did great. The pharmacy gave me the white round ones with TEVA on them, over a week ago. I have not been able to sleep!!!

  13. Carol

    I took generic Ambien for years. It worked great! Then my pharmacy ran out of my normal generic brand, which I learned was made by Qualitest. They subbed in the purple ones and I almost took them. But at the last minute I told the pharmacist I’d rather just fill one and wait for my normal ones. The pharmacist understood and said some people had complained about the purple ones. Next thing you know, Qualitest stopped making them. So then I switched to Mylan, which did work but not as well. Soon though they stopped working altogether and I had to switch to brand name Ambien, not knowing what else to do…and it’s cost me dearly. In my pocketbook. If you use a generic and it works for you feel free put the manufacturer in the comments section.

  14. Robert

    I have been using .5 mg of Zolpidem Mylan for 8 years and sleep well with it. Due to unknown reasons this brand is not imported anymore. And I had to take what was available Zolpidem Apotex give me a 2 day migraine but I can sleep but only seeing the pills I get afraid thinking about the migraine. Than after contacting my home doc he wrote a letter the Pharmacy ordered Zolpidem Mylan but Ratio Pharm came instead. his is a worseless pill and is a full ripoff it does not give any sleep. Generics is not controlled and this is a huge problems for customers

    • Yvette

      Sandoz is the only one that seems to semi work at this point. Had to call 20 pharmacies before I found one that carried it. Filed complaint with TEVA. They are the worst!

  15. Catherine

    I have been taking generic ambien zolpidem without issue for a good while. Suddenly I have a weird reaction when taking it in January, restless legs, panic attack and it was like I took speed, racing thoughts and wide awake. I stopped using it. February I get my refill have no issues at all with this lot of pills. Last night I take one from the previous month bottle the one I had issues with by mistake and low and behold I cannot sleep, I’m crying, mind racing, restless legs.

    • Brenda

      The name brand is the only drug to work for me. The generic, zolpidem is made by to many companies. It causes me to itch and most of the time seemed I was more awake. I am requesting the name brand and will not take anything generic. The side affects are enough to drive you crazy.

  16. Joe B

    When taking the Ambien brand, I NEVER had a problem going to sleep. I could take a 5mg dose and within 30 minutes I was asleep.

    With ANY of the generic brands, and I have tried 3 of them, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. I too would like to have my medicine checked.

    In fact, if the results came back the generic was “defective”, I would sue Costco, Walmart, Wal-Greens and CVS for selling a defective product.

  17. Cindy M.
    Seattle, WA

    THANK GOD, I don’t have to rely on Ambien/Zolpidem anymore for sleep…. well, if I have to get to bed much earlier than usual or if I’m at some kind of crazy sleepover with some noisy friends and there’s no way to make it dark… then I will have problems and will usually pop a Zolpidem and it works just fine. But that isn’t even once every 2 months.

    I USED to have a terrible time getting enough sleep, being a little bit manic with too many thoughts and anxieties. But now I take these things an hour or so before bed: Magnesium oxide (250 mg), 5-HTP (100 mg ), and some tart-cherry extract in a little juice or water. All these have been touted as sleep-promoting. Then, at bedtime, I take 1 Schiff “Knock-out,” which has 3 mg melatonin plus glycine, L-theanine and GABA. If I’m particularly wide-awake, I’ll add a herbal sleep compound like “Deep Sleep” (can’t remember who makes it), which has stuff like passion flower, lemon balm, chamomile, & many other herbs. If it’s a REAL bad night, I can always add a homeopathic sleep compound, like Hyland’s “Calms Forte,” sublingually.

    The trick is to not have the ingredients in the different sleep aids overlap, or be redundant. I guarantee you, combining regular sleep stuff like melatonin with herbs AND homeopathics will do the trick! My problem these days is being able to get up after 7 hours…. I wanna sleep longer! But once I’m up, there’s absolutely no “hangover” with any of these supplements.

  18. Vb

    My pharmacy changes my generic Zolpidem about once a year and all work equally well for me.

  19. Sally

    Please remember not everyone has problems with generic Ambien. I took the brand name Ambien off and on for a few years. I have also taken the generic version. They both worked well for me.

  20. Victorianlady 853

    THUMBS UP FOR ZOLPEDIM. Please, please please do not take zolpidem off the market. I am 75 years old. Lately I have had problems sleeping due to a new medicine I am taking. My doctor prescribed 5mg of Zolpidem. It puts me right to sleep for an average of 5 hours with no side effects whatsoever. From what I have read online, it is mostly the generic versions of zolpidem that give people problems.

  21. Betty

    I was prescribed ambien, but suddenly the pills I got were zolpedium. Pharmacist had decent excuse. I cannot take an entire pill, it only lets me sleep 4 hours, and I am wobbly and groggy when I wake up. So I took half. I still sleep only 4 hours but I am not so groggy. I started taking 1/4 pill and I still sleep 4 hours, once in a while 6 hours, and I feel great when I wake up. But you know, lately they aren’t working so well. Sometimes it takes 2 quarters of the pill to work. Is my body getting immune to them?

  22. Joanne
    South Carolina

    Same problem with lunesta
    I have taken lunesta for years. Recently the CVS was unable to fill the prescription with the same generic manufacturer so had to switch to a different one. These pills do not work as effectively as the previous ones. In fact each pill can have different effects. The first one I took actually seemed to hype me up. Another seemed to have no effect. I am a child of the sixties but taking pills that contain who knows what is reckless. The drug manufacturers have unlimited advertising budgets but no responsibility for ensuring their products are produced responsibly. And the usual response from the government is that budgets have been cut. I also take a daily estrogen blocker. I won’t find out that wasn’t effective until my cancer returns.

  23. Whitley

    Zolpiderm has been an effective and side effect free medicine for me for five years, maybe longer. My wife says I snore some when using it.
    Otherwise I sleep soundly and a predictable number of hours.

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.