ACTOR Heath Ledger, who was found dead in New York today, had been taking a prescription drug that has been caused bizarre and potentially dangerous reactions for hundreds of Australians.
The three bottles of prescription pills found in Heath Ledger's Manhattan apartment in SoHo contained antidepressants and Ambien, a police source told PageSix.com.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said that there were three prescription bottles found, all in Heath Ledger's name.
The actor, from Perth who was found dead of an apparent overdose today at the age of 28, had spoken in the past about having trouble sleeping.
Commissioner Browne wouldn't elaborate on what the pills were but said that they included sleeping pills.
"There were some still left in the bottle," he said. "They were not scattered around the apartment."
Called Ambien in the US, the tablet is marketed as Stilnox Down Under and hit headlines last year when a national drug hotline fielded calls from users reporting strange side-effects.
Some 500 people described odd behaviours from walking, crashing cars, having sex and falling from balconies after popping a pill.
One patient gained 23 kilograms over seven months after unknowingly eating from the refrigerator while asleep. Another patient woke up with a paintbrush in her hand after painting the front door.
In November, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) reduced pack sizes and updated its warnings on the drug to protect people from its "worrying and potentially dangerous adverse effects".
The most serious of the newly-listed side-effects included "rage reactions, worsened insomnia, confusion, agitation, hallucinations and other forms of unwanted behaviour". Read full details of concerns over his prescription drugs here.
In an interview with the New York Times last November, Ledger said he'd been taking Ambien sleeping pills, which according to the newspaper, "failed to work".
"He took a second one and fell into a stupor, only to wake up an hour later, his mind still racing," the journalist reported.
But one of his friends told PageSix.com, that the 28-year-old Heath Ledger was also battling depression.
"I was hearing that he was depressed," says actor Jonathan Zarin, who met Heath through mutual friends. "I'm sure he must have been in a really bad place. I'd been hearing that for a while."
But his family in a statement to the media in Perth today said Ledger's death was accidential. Read their statement here.