The drug Zolpidem is commonly prescribed as a treatment for insomnia. But after several bizarre cases, where a drug that should make people fall asleep instead roused them from a deep coma, it is being hailed as a "miracle pill". The first case involved a car accident victim in South Africa, who amazed doctors in 1999 when he awoke from a five-year coma after his GP prescribed Zolpidem as a sedative to treat persistent bouts of restlessness.
Several similar cases have since been recorded in South Africa and a clinical trial is under way, with the drug given to almost 200 patients with varying degrees of brain injury. It is thought that when used on coma patients, Zolpidem may activate dormant brain tissue next to damaged brain tissue, leading to patients waking up.
The drug has been shown to significantly improve speech, motor functions and concentration in stroke victims, head injury victims and oxygen-deprived patients, such as near-drowning cases.Back