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Another Stilnox controversy ...

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Another Stilnox controversy ...

Postby Fuzz » 19th Feb, '08, 07:42

Another victim of Stilnox, reportedly.
From Sydney Morning Herald

Did a sleeping pill end her brilliant life?
Dylan Welch
February 19, 2008


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A promising future … Mairead Costigan, whose family blames Stilnox for her death.

SHE was young, gifted and only weeks away from receiving her doctorate. A young philosophy graduate, she had been offered scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge. The eminent philosopher Raimond Gaita lauded her as a future leader in the field.

Instead, Mairead Costigan died when she plunged about 20 metres from a raised cycleway on the Harbour Bridge last September. Her family believes it was another tragedy involving the controversial sleeping pill Stilnox. Mairead had been on the drug for about eight months, though she switched to another Z-class sleeping pill, Imovane, the week before she died.

Security footage shows 27-year-old Mairead walking groggily across the cycle path and climbing onto a ledge before she fell.

Stilnox has been implicated in other deaths and blamed for bizarre behaviour including driving, eating and even sexual misadventure while sleeping. While the family acknowledges that Imovane may have been the trigger on the night of her fall, it is convinced that the prescription of Stilnox for eight months - when only four weeks is recommended - was the core reason for her death. As a coronial inquiry begins into Mairead's death, her family wants the drug banned.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration meets today to consider reclassifying zolpidem, which sells in Australia as Stilnox, as a "drug of abuse", making it harder for doctors to prescribe it and for pharmacists to issue it.

The manufacturer of zolpidem, sanofi-aventis, will oppose the rescheduling of the drug, which is used by more than 250,000 people in Australia.

"Sanofi-aventis does not believe any change in scheduling will positively impact the appropriate prescribing, dispensing and use of zolpidem," it said in an emailed response to the Herald.

Mairead's sister, Siobhan, 34, said: "Mairead died at the peak of her life personally and professionally. She was three weeks away from graduation, she'd spent 12 years of her life working solidly towards obtaining her [doctorate] and she died three weeks before she ever got to enjoy the fruits of her labours."

Mairead was the niece of Frank Costigan, QC, the head of the royal commission into organised crime in the 1980s.

After six years at Loreto Kirribilli and Killara High School, Mairead did an undergraduate degree in philosophy at Sydney University, where she came first in her honours year. She was offered scholarships at Oxford, Cambridge and Stanford. She began her doctoral studies at Stanford then returned to Sydney University to complete her PhD.

However, in early 2007 Mairead began to suffer insomnia. She went to a large medical clinic in Sydney in January last year and began a course of Stilnox. Over the next eight months, several doctors prescribed Stilnox for her.

Over the final few months of her life Mairead became anxious and confused and developed short-term memory loss. Her weight dropped from 51 kilos to the low-40s and her insomnia returned. About a week before she died she changed to Imovane, also owned by sanofi-aventis.

Then, on September 13, Mairead walked to the Harbour Bridge shortly after 10pm from her parents home at Lavender Bay. There, she climbed a chest-high sandstone wall with 30cm-ledge over the traffic. She stepped off the ledge and fell to the roadway. She was pronounced dead 40 minutes later.

Siobhan has seen the CCTV footage of her sister on the bridge, and says she was not fully conscious. "She didn't look anxious, upset, nothing. She was just completely blank … she zig-zags along the pathway about three times before she reaches the point at which the sandstone wall reaches a ledge and she climbs up and over."

Police investigated Mairead's death and have referred her death to the NSW Coroner. Siobhan said one of the investigating officers told the family they did not believe it was suicide.

Z-class drugs - zolpidem, zopiclone and zaleplon - are all non-benzodiazepine hypnotics that are used as an alternative to drugs such as valium. They take effect faster but allow for a quicker recovery.

In its campaign against Stilnox, the Costigan family has created an online petition which has 2800 signatures to date, along with hundreds of other people's horror stories.

A report released late last year - based on calls to a national drug helpline - said there were 13 deaths, four attempted murders and 12 suicide attempts recorded by the hotline where "zolpidem was the suspected causal agent".

A bottle of Ambien, the US brand name for zolpidem, was reportedly among the prescription drugs found near Heath Ledger's body when he died last month.

Two weeks before Mairead died, she had lunch with Professor Gaita. After her death, he contacted her family to express his sorrow. Australia had lost a potentially important philosopher, he said.

While it campaigns, the family still grieves. "Recently I was in the supermarket and saw a mother with three young daughters and I just burst into tears," says Siobhan. "There's moments like that almost every day."
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Re: Another Stilnox controversy ...

Postby kittykat » 19th Feb, '08, 15:17

Stilnox should not be used for more than 2 weeks as it's considered highly addictive. Poor girl - it's crazy stuff.
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Re: Another Stilnox controversy ...

Postby Aliya » 19th Feb, '08, 15:22

How very very sad, poor kid.

But I have a question - why do people take sleeping tablets so often? The times I have tried leave me feelin worse than being tired. Prescription pills seem to be taken by so many people so often it is terrifying. THey dont treat the symptom itself and doctors often dont seem to do anything other than say, here have some x pills.. Why do people do this? I know people have sleeping issues and stuff - dont we all - but this pill reliance esp in the US is awful.

I know people here in SIngapore who pop sleeping pills to sleep, pop pills to wake up, pop pills for a common cold, pop pills for hayfever and then feel like shite, it is just weird.
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