May 28, 2017
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Because sleep disturbances may be presenting manifestations 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. Because some of the important adverse effects of sedative-hypnotics appear to be dose related (see PRECAUTIONS and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION), it is important to use the smallest possible effective dose, especially in the elderly.

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. These events can occur in sedativehypnotic- naïve as well as in sedative-hypnotic-experienced persons. Although behaviors such as sleepdriving may occur with sedative-hypnotics alone at therapeutic doses, the use of alcohol and other CNS depressants with sedative-hypnotics appears to increase the risk of such behaviors, as does the use of sedative-hypnotics at doses exceeding the maximum recommended dose. Due to the risk to the patient and the community, discontinuation of sedative-hypnotics 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 sedativehypnotic. As with sleep-driving, patients usually do not remember these events.

Severe Anaphylactic And Anaphylactoid Reactions

Rare 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 estazolam. 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 tongue, glottis or larynx, airway obstruction may occur and be fatal. Patients who develop angioedema after treatment with estazolam should not be rechallenged with the drug.

Estazolam, like other benzodiazepines, has CNS depressant effects. For this reason, patients should be cautioned against engaging in hazardous occupations requiring complete mental alertness, such as operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle, after ingesting the drug, including potential impairment of the performance of such activities that may occur the day following ingestion of estazolam. Patients should also be cautioned about possible combined effects with alcohol and other CNS depressant drugs.

As with all benzodiazepines, amnesia, paradoxical reactions (e.g., excitement, agitation, etc.), and other adverse behavioral effects may occur unpredictably.

There have been reports of withdrawal signs and symptoms of the type associated with withdrawal from CNS depressant drugs following the rapid decrease or the abrupt discontinuation of benzodiazepines (see Drug Abuse And Dependence).

Estazolam Interaction With Drugs That Inhibit Metabolism Via Cytochrome P450 3A (CYP3A)

The metabolism of estazolam to the major circulating metabolite 4-hydroxy-estazolam and the metabolism of other triazolobenzodiazepines is catalyzed by CYP3A. Consequently, estazolam should be avoided in patients receiving ketoconazole and itraconazole, which are very potent inhibitors of CYP3A (see CONTRAINDICATIONS). With drugs inhibiting CYP3A to a lesser, but still significant degree, estazolam should be used only with caution and consideration of appropriate dosage reduction. The following are examples of drugs known to inhibit the metabolism of other related benzodiazepines, presumably through inhibition of CYP3A: nefazodone, fluvoxamine, cimetidine, diltiazem, isoniazide, and some macrolide antibiotics.

While no in vivo drug-drug interaction studies were conducted between estazolam and inducers of CYP3A, compounds that are potent CYP3A inducers (such as carbamazepine, phenytoin, rifampin, and barbiturates) would be expected to decrease estazolam concentrations.



Impaired motor and/or cognitive performance attributable to the accumulation of benzodiazepines and their active metabolites following several days of repeated use at their recommended doses is a concern in certain vulnerable patients (e.g., those especially sensitive to the effects of benzodiazepines or those with a reduced capacity to metabolize and eliminate them) (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Elderly or debilitated patients and those with impaired renal or hepatic function should be cautioned about these risks and advised to monitor themselves for signs of excessive sedation or impaired conditions.

Estazolam appears to cause dose-related respiratory depression that is ordinarily not clinically relevant at recommended doses in patients with normal respiratory function. However, patients with compromised respiratory function may be at risk and should be monitored appropriately. As a class, benzodiazepines have the capacity to depress respiratory drive; there are insufficient data available, however, to characterize their relative potency in depressing respiratory drive at clinically recommended doses.

As with other benzodiazepines, estazolam should be administered with caution to patients exhibiting signs or symptoms of depression. 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 least amount of drug that is feasible should be prescribed for the patient at any one time.

Information For Patients

“Sleep-Driving” and other complex behaviors:

There have been reports of people getting out of bed after taking a sedative-hypnotic and driving their cars while not fully awake, often with no memory of the event. If a patient experiences such an episode, it should be reported to his or her doctor immediately, since “sleep-driving” can be dangerous. This behavior is more likely to occur when sedativehypnotics are taken with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants (see WARNINGS). 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 sedativehypnotic. As with sleep-driving, patients usually do not remember these events.

To assure the safe and effective use of estazolam, the following information and instructions should be given to patients:

  1. Inform your physician about any alcohol consumption and medicine you are taking now, including drugs you may buy without a prescription. Alcohol should not be used during treatment with hypnotics.
  2. Inform your physician if you are planning to become pregnant, if you are pregnant, or if you become pregnant while you are taking this medicine.
  3. You should not take this medicine if you are nursing, as the drug may be excreted in breast milk.
  4. Until you experience the way this medicine affects you, do not drive a car, operate potentially dangerous machinery, or engage in hazardous occupations requiring complete mental alertness after taking this medicine.
  5. since benzodiazepines may produce psychological and physical dependence, you should not increase the dose before consulting your physician. In addition, since the abrupt discontinuation of estazolam may be associated with temporary sleep disturbances, you should consult your physician before abruptly discontinuing doses of 2 mg per night or more.

Laboratory Tests

Laboratory tests are not ordinarily required in otherwise healthy patients. When treatment with estazolam is protracted, periodic blood counts, urinalyses, and blood chemistry analyses are advisable.

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility

Two-year carcinogenicity studies were conducted in mice and rats at dietary doses of 0.8, 3 and 10 mg/kg/day and 0.5, 2, and 10 mg/kg/day, respectively. Evidence of tumorigenicity was not observed in either study. Incidence of hyperplastic liver nodules increased in female mice given the mid- and highdose levels. The significance of such nodules in mice is not known at this time.

In vitro and in vivo mutagenicity tests including the Ames test, DNA repair in B. subtilis, in vivo cytogenetics in mice and rats, and the dominant lethal test in mice did not show a mutagenic potential for estazolam.

Fertility in male and female rats was not affected by doses up to 30 times the usual recommended human dose.


Teratogenic Effects

Pregnancy Category X (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).

Nonteratogenic Effects

Nonteratogenic Effects: The child born of a mother taking benzodiazepines may be at some risk for withdrawal symptoms during the postnatal period. Neonatal flaccidity has been reported in an infant born of a mother who received benzodiazepines during pregnancy.

Labor And Delivery

Estazolam has no established use in labor or delivery.

Nursing Mothers

Human studies have not been conducted; however, studies in lactating rats indicate that estazolam and/or its metabolites are secreted in the milk. The use of estazolam in nursing mothers is not recommended.

Pediatric Use

Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients below the age of 18 have not been established.

Geriatric Use

Approximately 18% of individuals participating in the premarketing clinical trials of estazolam were 60 years of age or older. Overall, the adverse event profile did not differ substantively from that observed in younger individuals. Care should be exercised when prescribing benzodiazepines to small or debilitated elderly patients (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

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

Last reviewed on RxList: 3/23/2017


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