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Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 17:20 EDT

Ambien Appears to Wake Up Coma Patient

October 30, 2007

A British woman who slipped into a coma six years ago after taking heroin is reportedly regaining consciousness after being given an Ambien-type drug.

Amy Pickard of Hastings was given zolpidem, the drug marketed in the United States under the name Ambien, The Daily Mail reported.

When she takes the pill, I see her face relax and the old sparkle return to her eyes, her mother, Thelma Pickard said. It’s incredible.

The young woman’s case is described on The Waking Pill, a BBC documentary scheduled to be aired Wednesday. She is one of 360 patients around the world in a trial on using zolpidem for coma patients.

Ambien is marketed as a sleeping pill. But in 1999, a young South African, Louis Viljoen, who had been comatose for five years, was given a pill because he was restless. Instead of going to sleep, he spoke for the first time since he had been hit by a truck.