Zolpidem Wakes Some Patients From Persistent Coma

TBI and other conditions can put a person in a deep coma for years on end. This condition is called PVS which is short for “persistent vegetative state.” In a number of highly publicized incidents use of the drug Zolpidem (sold under the names Ambien, Ambien CR and Stilknox) has woken people up enabling them to sit up and speak after being in a PVS for years. Zolpidem is typically used to help people with insomnia get to sleep. It works by binding to the receptors for GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It has long been established that sleep and coma are different, and that coma is not a form of sleep. So how does Zolpidem wake people up from coma? We don’t know at this point. But the utterly remarkable success of Zolpidem in some cases has led people to call it the Lazarus drug.

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