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CNS Depressant Effects and Next-Day Impairment
Ambien, like other sedative-hypnotic drugs, has central nervous system (CNS) depressant effects. Co-administration with other CNS depressants (e.g., benzodiazepines, opioids, tricyclic antidepressants, alcohol) increases the risk of CNS depression. Dosage adjustments of Ambien and of other concomitant CNS depressants may be necessary when Ambien is administered with such agents because of the potentially additive effects. The use of Ambien with other sedative-hypnotics (including other zolpidem products) at bedtime or the middle of the night is not recommended [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].
The risk of next-day psychomotor impairment, including impaired driving, is increased if Ambien is taken with less than a full night of sleep remaining (7- to 8 hours); if a higher than the recommended dose is taken; if co-administered with other CNS depressants; or if coadministered with other drugs that increase the blood levels of zolpidem. Patients should be cautioned against driving and other activities requiring complete mental alertness if Ambien is taken in these circumstances [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and Clinical Studies].
Need to Evaluate for Co-morbid Diagnoses
Because sleep disturbances may be the presenting manifestation of a physical and/or psychiatric disorder, symptomatic treatment of insomnia should be initiated only after a careful evaluation of the patient. The failure of insomnia to remit after 7 to 10 days of treatment may indicate the presence of a primary psychiatric and/or medical illness that should be evaluated. Worsening of insomnia or the emergence of new thinking or behavior abnormalities may be the consequence of an unrecognized psychiatric or physical disorder. Such findings have emerged during the course of treatment with sedative/hypnotic drugs, including zolpidem.
Severe Anaphylactic and Anaphylactoid Reactions
Cases of angioedema involving the tongue, glottis or larynx have been reported in patients after taking the first or subsequent doses of sedative-hypnotics, including zolpidem. Some patients have had additional symptoms such as dyspnea, throat closing or nausea and vomiting that suggest anaphylaxis. Some patients have required medical therapy in the emergency department. If angioedema involves the throat, glottis or larynx, airway obstruction may occur and be fatal. Patients who develop angioedema after treatment with zolpidem should not be rechallenged with the drug.
Abnormal Thinking and Behavioral Changes
Abnormal thinking and behavior changes have been reported in patients treated with sedative/hypnotics, including Ambien. Some of these changes included decreased inhibition (e.g., aggressiveness and extroversion that seemed out of character), bizarre behavior, agitation and depersonalization. Visual and auditory hallucinations have been reported.
In controlled trials of Ambien 10 mg taken at bedtime < 1% of adults with insomnia reported hallucinations. In a clinical trial, 7% of pediatric patients treated with Ambien 0.25 mg/kg taken at bedtime reported hallucinations versus 0% treated with placebo [see Use in Specific Populations].
Complex behaviors such as “sleep-driving” (i.e., driving while not fully awake after ingestion of a sedative-hypnotic, with amnesia for the event) have been reported in sedative-hypnotic-naive as well as in sedative-hypnotic-experienced persons. Although behaviors such as “sleep-driving” have occurred with Ambien alone at therapeutic doses, the co-administration of Ambien with alcohol and other CNS depressants increases the risk of such behaviors, as does the use of Ambien at doses exceeding the maximum recommended dose. Due to the risk to the patient and the community, discontinuation of Ambien should be strongly considered for patients who report a “sleep-driving” episode.
Other complex behaviors (e.g., preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex) have been reported in patients who are not fully awake after taking a sedative-hypnotic. As with “sleep-driving”, patients usually do not remember these events. Amnesia, anxiety and other neuro-psychiatric symptoms may also occur.
It can rarely be determined with certainty whether a particular instance of the abnormal behaviors listed above is drug induced, spontaneous in origin, or a result of an underlying psychiatric or physical disorder. Nonetheless, the emergence of any new behavioral sign or symptom of concern requires careful and immediate evaluation.
Use in Patients with Depression
In primarily depressed patients treated with sedative-hypnotics, worsening of depression, and suicidal thoughts and actions (including completed suicides), have been reported. Suicidal tendencies may be present in such patients and protective measures may be required. Intentional overdosage is more common in this group of patients; therefore, the lowest number of tablets that is feasible should be prescribed for the patient at any one time.
Although studies with 10 mg zolpidem tartrate did not reveal respiratory depressant effects at hypnotic doses in healthy subjects or in patients with mild-to-moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a reduction in the Total Arousal Index, together with a reduction in lowest oxygen saturation and increase in the times of oxygen desaturation below 80% and 90%, was observed in patients with mild-to-moderate sleep apnea when treated with zolpidem compared to placebo. Since sedative-hypnotics have the capacity to depress respiratory drive, precautions should be taken if Ambien is prescribed to patients with compromised respiratory function. Post-marketing reports of respiratory insufficiency in patients receiving 10 mg of zolpidem tartrate, most of whom had pre-existing respiratory impairment, have been reported. The risk of respiratory depression should be considered prior to prescribing Ambien in patients with respiratory impairment including sleep apnea and myasthenia gravis.
There have been reports of withdrawal signs and symptoms following the rapid dose decrease or abrupt discontinuation of zolpidem. Monitor patients for tolerance, abuse, and dependence [see Drug Abuse and Dependence].
Patient Counseling Information
See FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide).
Inform patients and their families about the benefits and risks of treatment with Ambien. Inform patients of the availability of a Medication Guide and instruct them to read the Medication Guide prior to initiating treatment with Ambien and with each prescription refill. Review the Ambien Medication Guide with every patient prior to initiation of treatment. Instruct patients or caregivers that Ambien should be taken only as prescribed.
CNS Depressant Effects and Next-Day Impairment
Tell patients that Ambien has the potential to cause next-day impairment, and that this risk is increased if dosing instructions are not carefully followed. Tell patients to wait for at least 8 hours after dosing before driving or engaging in other activities requiring full mental alertness. Inform patients that impairment can be present despite feeling fully awake.
Severe Anaphylactic and Anaphylactoid Reactions
Inform patients that severe anaphylactic and anaphylactoid reactions have occurred with zolpidem. Describe the signs/symptoms of these reactions and advise patients to seek medical attention immediately if any of them occur.
Sleep-driving and Other Complex Behaviors
Instruct patients and their families that sedative hypnotics can cause abnormal thinking and behavior change, including “sleep driving” and other complex behaviors while not being fully awake (preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex). Tell patients to call you immediately if they develop any of these symptoms.
Tell patients to immediately report any suicidal thoughts.
Alcohol and Other Drugs
Ask patients about alcohol consumption, medicines they are taking, and drugs they may be taking without a prescription. Advise patients not to use Ambien if they drank alcohol that evening or before bed.
Tolerance, Abuse, and Dependence
Tell patients not to increase the dose of Ambien on their own, and to inform you if they believe the drug “does not work”.
Patients should be counseled to take Ambien right before they get into bed and only when they are able to stay in bed a full night (7-8 hours) before being active again. Ambien tablets should not be taken with or immediately after a meal. Advise patients NOT to take Ambien if they drank alcohol that evening.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Zolpidem was administered to mice and rats for 2 years at oral doses of 4, 18, and 80 mg base/kg. In mice, these doses are approximately 2.5, 10, and 50 times the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 10 mg/day (8 mg zolpidem base) on mg/m² basis. In rats, these doses are approximately 5, 20, and 100 times the MRHD on a mg/m² basis. No evidence of carcinogenic potential was observed in mice. In rats, renal tumors (lipoma, liposarcoma) were seen at the mid- and high doses.
Impairment of fertility
Oral administration of zolpidem (doses of 4, 20, and 100 mg base/kg/day) to rats prior to and during mating, and continuing in females through postpartum day 25, resulted in irregular estrus cycles and prolonged precoital intervals at the highest dose tested. The no-effect dose for these findings is approximately 24 times the MRHD on a mg/m² basis. There was no impairment of fertility at any dose tested.
Use In Specific Populations
Pregnancy Category C
There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of Ambien in pregnant women.
Studies in children to assess the effects of prenatal exposure to zolpidem have not been conducted; however, cases of severe neonatal respiratory depression have been reported when zolpidem was used at the end of pregnancy, especially when taken with other CNS-depressants. Children born to mothers taking sedative-hypnotic drugs may be at risk for withdrawal symptoms during the postnatal period. Neonatal flaccidity has also been reported in infants born to mothers who received sedative-hypnotic drugs during pregnancy. Ambien should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit outweighs the potential risk to the fetus.
Administration of zolpidem to pregnant rats and rabbits resulted in adverse effects on offspring development at doses greater than the Ambien maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 10 mg/day (approximately 8 mg/day zolpidem base); however, teratogenicity was not observed.
When zolpidem was administered at oral doses of 4, 20, and 100 mg base/kg/day to pregnant rats during the period of organogenesis, dose-related decreases in fetal skull ossification occurred at all but the lowest dose, which is approximately 5 times the MRHD on a mg/m² basis. In rabbits treated during organogenesis with zolpidem at oral doses of 1, 4, and 16 mg base/kg/day increased embryo-fetal death and incomplete fetal skeletal ossification occurred at the highest dose tested. The no-effect dose for embryo-fetal toxicity in rabbits is approximately 10 times the MRHD on a mg/m² basis. Administration of zolpidem to rats at oral doses of 4, 20, and 100 mg base/kg/day during the latter part of pregnancy and throughout lactation produced decreased offspring growth and survival at all but the lowest dose, which is approximately 5 times the MRHD on a mg/m² basis.
Labor and Delivery
Ambien has no established use in labor and delivery [see Pregnancy].
Zolpidem is excreted in human milk. Caution should be exercised when Ambien is administered to a nursing woman.
Ambien is not recommended for use in children. Safety and effectiveness of zolpidem in pediatric patients below the age of 18 years have not been established.
In an 8-week study, in pediatric patients (aged 6-17 years) with insomnia associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) an oral solution of zolpidem tartrate dosed at 0.25 mg/kg at bedtime did not decrease sleep latency compared to placebo. Psychiatric and nervous system disorders comprised the most frequent ( > 5%) treatment emergent adverse reactions observed with zolpidem versus placebo and included dizziness (23.5% vs. 1.5%), headache (12.5% vs. 9.2%), and hallucinations were reported in 7% of the pediatric patients who received zolpidem; none of the pediatric patients who received placebo reported hallucinations [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Ten patients on zolpidem (7.4%) discontinued treatment due to an adverse reaction.
A total of 154 patients in U.S. controlled clinical trials and 897 patients in non-U.S. clinical trials who received zolpidem were ≥ 60 years of age. For a pool of U.S. patients receiving zolpidem at doses of ≤ 10 mg or placebo, there were three adverse reactions occurring at an incidence of at least 3% for zolpidem and for which the zolpidem incidence was at least twice the placebo incidence (i.e., they could be considered drug related).
A total of 30/1,959 (1.5%) non-U.S. patients receiving zolpidem reported falls, including 28/30 (93%) who were ≥ 70 years of age. Of these 28 patients, 23 (82%) were receiving zolpidem doses > 10 mg. A total of 24/1,959 (1.2%) non-U.S. patients receiving zolpidem reported confusion, including 18/24 (75%) who were ≥ 70 years of age. Of these 18 patients, 14 (78%) were receiving zolpidem doses > 10 mg.
The dose of Ambien in elderly patients is 5 mg to minimize adverse effects related to impaired motor and/or cognitive performance and unusual sensitivity to sedative/hypnotic drugs [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Gender Difference in Pharmacokinetics
Women clear zolpidem tartrate from the body at a lower rate than men. Cmax and AUC parameters of zolpidem were approximately 45% higher at the same dose in female subjects compared with male subjects. Given the higher blood levels of zolpidem tartrate in women compared to men at a given dose, the recommended initial dose of Ambien for adult women is 5 mg, and the recommended dose for adult men is 5 or 10 mg.
In geriatric patients, clearance of zolpidem is similar in men and women. The recommended dose of Ambien in geriatric patients is 5 mg regardless of gender.
Last reviewed on RxList: 5/20/2013
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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