Ambien manufacturer responds to Roseanne: 'Racism is not a known side effect'

The manufacturer of Ambien issued a statement on Wednesday dismissing actress Roseanne Barr’s suggestion that the sleep aid was to blame for her racist and anti-Semitic tweets that led to the cancellation of her rebooted sitcom.

“People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world,” Sanofi U.S. said in a statement posted to Twitter. “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

The Bridgewater, N.J.-based company employs more than 14,000 people and manufactures dozens of prescription and over-the-counter medications, including Ambien.

ABC Entertainment canceled “Roseanne” on Tuesday after Barr published a now-deleted tweet that included a racist slur against former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. Barr referred to Jarrett, who is African-American, as the offspring of the “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes.” In another tweet, Barr called billionaire Democratic donor and Holocaust survivor George Soros “a Nazi” who “turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in concentration camps & stole their wealth.”

Discredited conspiracy theories portraying Soros — who is Jewish and was 9 years old when World War II began — as a Nazi collaborator have become right-wing internet staples. A spokesman for Soros said Barr’s “false allegations are insulting to the victims of the Holocaust” and “an affront to Mr. Soros & his family, who against the odds managed to survive.”

Yahoo News photo Illustration; photos: AP, Getty/Twitter
Yahoo News photo Illustration; photos: AP, Getty/Twitter

In a barrage of tweets hours after the show was canceled, Barr seemed to blame Ambien for her behavior.

“It was 2 in the morning and I was Ambien tweeting-it was memorial day too-i went 2 far & do not want it defended-it was egregious Indefensible,” she wrote. “I made a mistake I wish I hadn’t but…don’t defend it please.”

She added: “Not giving excuses for what I did (tweeted) but I’ve done weird stuff while on ambien-cracked eggs on the wall at 2am etc.”

The tweets were subsequently deleted, and Barr disputed the notion she was blaming the drug for her racist and anti-Semitic tweets.

“Yes, I have had odd ambien experiences on tweeting late at night-like many other ppl do,” she wrote. “I BLAME MYSELF OK? it’s just an explanation not an excuse.”

According to the warnings on its prescription label, Ambien “may cause serious side effects,” including “getting out of bed while not being fully awake, abnormal thoughts and behavior, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, worsening of depression, and suicidal thoughts or actions.” The most common side effects listed are drowsiness, dizziness and diarrhea.

Additional reporting by David Knowles

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