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Ambien Maker Sanofi to Roseanne Barr: No, Our Sleeping Pill Doesn’t Cause Racism

May 30, 2018, 5:18 PM UTC

Roseanne Barr just got some epic Twitter shade from… one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

French drug giant Sanofi on Wednesday used its social media account to not-so-subtly trash Barr’s assertion that a racist tweet she sent out Tuesday — which led to the abrupt cancellation of her nascent ABC show Roseanne and to Barr being dropped by her talent agency — was a consequence of using the common prescription sleep medicine Ambien (specifically, Barr said she had been “Ambien tweeting” in a since-removed social media post). Ambien is manufactured by Sanofi.

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Sanofi took exception to the scapegoating. “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,” wrote the company on Twitter.

It is certainly true that Ambien (or any drug) doesn’t have “racist tweets” listed under the potential adverse events on its label. But the sleep treatment does come with some pretty serious side effect warnings — including the possibility of “abnormal thinking, behavioral changes and complex behaviors,” as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) outlines. Consumers may even experience extreme incidents like “sleep-driving” and hallucinations.

FDA Ambien label
FDA

Of course, Sanofi’s broader point is that the possibility of those side effects doesn’t excuse Barr’s tweet, which compared former Obama administration official Valerie Jarrett to the Islamic group Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes.

Barr also has a history of controversial statements that have been roundly criticized as racist, bigoted, or pushing conspiracy theories. President Donald Trump on Wednesday tangentially weighed in on the issue via Twitter, asking why ABC had issued a mea culpa to Jarrett over Barr’s comments when the network has never called the president to apologize for ostensibly harsh coverage.