The “Ambien defense” has been used by people trying to excuse themselves for violent crime, for driving under the influence and even for sexual assault. Actress Roseanne Barr took it into a whole new territory on Wednesday when she used the sleeping aid as an excuse for a racist tweet that got her popular ABC television show canceled.
Roseanne’s Ambien defense got immediate blowback from Sanofi, which makes Ambien. “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication,” the company tweeted from its official account.
People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.
“Dear @therealroseanne Ambien does not make you racist, being racist makes you racist,” tweeted Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an outspoken obstetrician/gynecologist who practices at the San Francisco Medical Center.
To be fair, Ambien might disinhibit, letting the unspoken racism out to be expressed publicly.
“Taking Ambien doesn’t take care of sleep deprivation. So the combination of sleep deprivation and medication side effects might result in disinhibited or bizarre behavior," said Azizi Seixas, who studies sleep behavior at New York University.
Some people accused of serious crime have used the Ambien defense, including Andrew McClay of Denver, after he was arrested in the 2009 murder of a friend, as well as a 45-year-old hospital worker who stabbed his wife 20 times and a 62-year-old woman who beat her husband to death with a metal pipe after taking Ambien.