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What is Stilnox?

It seems the London Olympics is already plagued by controversy and the torch hasn’t even arrived yet. From team selections, allegations of stalking to sleeping arrangements but the issue seemly most talked about is the usage and subsequent effects of Stilnox. Past and present Olympians have come forward to have their say – but what’s it all about? What is Stilnox? Should its usage be allowed? What about the wider community?

What is Stilnox used for?
Stilnox is a medication used to treat insomnia and has been used by athletes to ensure that get adequate sleep in the lead up to an event particularly after long haul flights. While determined by Sanofi, the drug company selling the selling tablet, as still remaining to be safe for the short term treatment of insomnia the effects on some users is downright frightening.

Use of Stilnox by athletes
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has said ‘used properly this is a medicine of value to some patients, particularly with severe insomnia, and should not be taken off the market’. So why did the Australian Olympic Committee move to ban the drug from being used by athletes in London if it’s safe and why are there now calls for Stilnox to be banned by the International Olympic Committee?
For the well-being of elite athletes particularly upon revelations that athletes are combining the drug with the consumption of caffeine and other energy drinks.

So while Stilnox is a no go for Olympic athletes it is still widely available to the general public despite a warning issued to the medical profession last month.

Risks of taking Stilnox?
According to the warning the TGA stated that Stilnox “may be associated with potentially dangerous complex sleep-related behaviours which may include sleep walking, sleep driving and other bizarre behaviours”. Stilnox has also been linked to suicide and severe hallucination.

Statistics of Stilnox
While the government admits to not knowing exactly how many Australians routinely use Stilnox, since is it not funded by Medicare, and Sanofi refuse to release sales figures, it is estimated that approximately half a million people used a variety of subsidised hypnotics and sedatives between 2010 and 2011.

Advice from Stilnox user, Grant Hackett
Considering the ban by the Australian Olympic Committee; comments of Olympic swimmer Grant Hackett, who used Stilnox during his sporting career, labelling the drug as ‘evil’ and ‘scary’ and recent warnings to the medical profession perhaps it is time for the government to take a closer look at the potential side effects of the drug on the wider community particularly in the long term.

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