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News of the Day ... In Perspective

06/07/2006

Sleeping pills may awaken patients in a PVS

When he gave a patient in a persistent vegetative state a sleeping pill for restlessness, the patient woke up, said Dr. Ralf Clauss of the Royal Surrey County Hospital. The drug zolpidem is commonly known as Ambien.

Three such patients, two with traumatic brain injuries and one with severe brain damage after nearly drowning, were reported in NeuroRehabilitation.

Patients were able to interact with family members, make jokes, and talk on the telephone. One even played catch.

The family of Terri Schindler Schiavo has called for a moratorium on care removal from patients diagnosed with PVS until further studies can be conducted. “[PVS] is being commonly misdiagnosed,” said Robert Schindler, Terri’s father.

Clauss hopes that a sustained release form of zolpidem would allow patients to remain alert all day. The drug company ReGen Therapeutics of London is attempting to make a drug to help PVS patients attain awareness (Steve Ertelt, LifeNews.com 5/24/06; News, www.Nature.com 5/22/06).

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