May 23, 2017
Recommended Topic Related To:


"June 13, 2012 -- A new sleeping pill under study helps insomniacs fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, according to new research.

The medicine, called suvorexant, is not available -- it has not yet been submitted to the FDA. Suv"...





Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.


CNS Depressant Effects And Next-Day Impairment

Intermezzo, 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 Intermezzo and of other concomitant CNS depressants may be necessary when Intermezzo is administered with such agents because of the potentially additive effects. The use of Intermezzo with other sedative-hypnotics (including other zolpidem products) at bedtime or the middle of the night is not recommended [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

In a driving study, healthy subjects who received Intermezzo with fewer than four hours of bedtime remaining had evidence of impaired driving compared to subjects who received placebo [see Clinical Studies]. The risk of next-day driving impairment (and psychomotor impairment) is increased if Intermezzo is taken with less than 4 hours of bedtime remaining, if higher than recommended dose is taken, if co-administered with other CNS depressants, or coadministered with other drugs that increase the blood levels of zolpidem.

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 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 or anaphylaxis after treatment with zolpidem should not be rechallenged with Intermezzo.

Abnormal Thinking And Behavioral Changes

Abnormal thinking and behavior changes have been reported in patients treated with sedative-hypnotics including zolpidem. 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 also been reported.

In controlled trials of zolpidem tartrate 10 mg taken at bedtime, < 1% of adults with insomnia who received zolpidem reported hallucinations. In a clinical trial, 7% of pediatric patients treated with zolpidem tartrate 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 zolpidem alone at therapeutic doses, the co-administration of zolpidem with alcohol and other CNS depressants increases the risk of such behaviors, as does the use of zolpidem at doses exceeding the maximum recommended dose. Due to the risk to the patient and the community, discontinuation of Intermezzo 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.

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.

Respiratory Depression

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 Intermezzo 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 risks of respiratory depression should be considered prior to prescribing Intermezzo in patients with respiratory impairment including sleep apnea and myasthenia gravis.

Withdrawal Effects

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 Intermezzo. Inform patients of the availability of a Medication Guide and instruct them to read the Medication Guide prior to initiating treatment with Intermezzo and with each prescription refill.

Review the Intermezzo Medication Guide with every patient prior to initiation of treatment. Instruct patients or caregivers that Intermezzo should be taken only as prescribed.

CNS Depressant Effects and Next-Day Impairment

Tell patients that Intermezzo 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 4 hours after dosing and until they feel fully awake before driving or engaging in other activities requiring full mental alertness.

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 to inform their families that zolpidem has been associated with “ sleep-driving” and other complex behaviors while not being fully awake (preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex), and tell patients and their families to call their healthcare providers immediately if they develop any of these symptoms.


Tell patients to immediately report any suicidal thoughts.

Administration Instructions

For detailed instructions on how to use Intermezzo, tell patients to refer to the Patient Instructions for Use.

Tell patients that Intermezzo is to be taken only once per night if needed if they wake in the middle of the night and have difficulty returning to sleep. Tell patients that Intermezzo should only be taken if they have 4 hours of bedtime remaining before the planned time of waking.

Instruct the patient to place the tablet under the tongue, allowing it to disintegrate completely before swallowing. Tell the patient that Intermezzo should not be swallowed whole. Tell patients that the effect of Intermezzo may be slowed if taken with or immediately after a meal.

Instruct patients to remove the tablet from the unit-dose pouch just prior to dosing. Advise patients NOT to take Intermezzo if they drank alcohol that day or before bed.

Healthcare professionals can telephone Purdue Pharma's Medical Services Department (1-888-726-7535) for information on this product.

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility


Zolpidem was administered in the diet to rats and mice for 2 years at doses of 4, 18, and 80 mg base/kg/day. In mice, these doses are approximately 7, 30, and 140 times, respectively, the recommended human dose (RHD) of 3.5 mg/day (approximately 2.8 mg zolpidem base) on a mg/m² basis. In rats, these doses are approximately 15, 60, and 280 times, respectively, the RHD 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.


Zolpidem was negative in in vitro (bacterial reverse mutation, mouse lymphoma, and chromosomal aberration) and in vivo (mouse micronucleus) genetic toxicology assays.

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 70 times the RHD 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 zolpidem 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. Intermezzo 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 at doses greater than the recommended human dose (RHD) of 3.5 mg/day (approximately 2.8 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 were observed at all but the lowest dose, which is approximately 15 times the RHD 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 skull ossification were seen at the highest dose tested. The no-effect dose for embryo-fetal toxicity in rabbits is approximately 30 times the RHD 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 15 times the RHD on a mg/m² basis.

Nursing Mothers

Zolpidem is excreted in human milk. The effect of zolpidem on the nursing infant is not known.

Pediatric Use

Intermezzo is not recommended for use in children. Safety and effectiveness of Intermezzo have not been established in pediatric patients below the age of 18.

In an 8-week study in pediatric patients (aged 6 to 17 years) with insomnia associated with ADHD, an oral solution of zolpidem tartrate dosed at 0.25 mg/kg at bedtime did not decrease sleep latency compared to placebo. Hallucinations were reported in 7% of the pediatric patients who received zolpidem; none of the pediatric patients who received placebo reported hallucinations.

Geriatric Use

Intermezzo dosage adjustment is necessary in geriatric patients. Sedating drugs may cause confusion and over-sedation in the elderly; elderly patients generally should be started on low doses of Intermezzo and observed closely [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, and CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].

Clinical trial experience with other zolpidem formulations (5 mg to 10 mg oral zolpidem tartrate) given at bedtime:

A total of 154 patients in U.S.-controlled clinical trials and 897 patients in non-U.S. clinical trials who received oral zolpidem were ≥ 60 years of age. For a pool of U.S. patients receiving oral zolpidem tartrate 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 (see Table 2).

Table 2: Adverse Reactions in Geriatric Patients in Pooled Trials of 5 mg to 10 mg of Oral Zolpidem Tartrate Given at Bedtime

Adverse Reaction 5 to 10 mg Oral Zolpidem tartrate Placebo
Dizziness 3% 0%
Drowsiness 5% 2%
Diarrhea 3% 1%

Falls in Geriatric Patients

A total of 30/1,959 (2%) non-U.S. patients receiving other zolpidem formulations (5 mg to 10 mg oral zolpidem tartrate) reported falls, including 28/30 (93%) who were ≥ 70 years of age. Of these 28 patients, 23 (82%) were receiving zolpidem tartrate doses > 10 mg. A total of 24/1,959 (1%) 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 tartrate doses > 10 mg.

The dose of Intermezzo in elderly patients is 1.75 mg to minimize adverse effects related to impaired motor and/or cognitive performance and unusual sensitivity to sedative-hypnotic drugs.

Gender Difference In Pharmacokinetics

Women cleared zolpidem tartrate from the body after sublingual administration of a 3.5 mg dose of Intermezzo at a lower rate than men (2.7 mL/min/kg vs. 4.0 mL/min/kg). 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 dose of Intermezzo for women is 1.75 mg, and the recommended dose for adult men is 3.5 mg.

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 3/20/2017


Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration


You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Women's Health

Find out what women really need.