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Ambien CR (Zolpidem Tartrate) - Warnings and Precautions



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

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 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

A variety of abnormal thinking and behavior changes have been reported to occur in association with the use of sedative/hypnotics. Some of these changes may be characterized by decreased inhibition (e.g. aggressiveness and extroversion that seemed out of character), similar to effects produced by alcohol and other CNS depressants. Visual and auditory hallucinations have been reported as well as behavioral changes such as bizarre behavior, agitation and depersonalization. In controlled trials, <1% of adults with insomnia who received zolpidem reported hallucinations. In a clinical trial, 7.4% of pediatric patients with insomnia associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), who received zolpidem reported hallucinations [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 with sedative-hypnotics, including zolpidem. These events can occur in sedative-hypnotic-naive as well as in sedative-hypnotic-experienced persons. Although behaviors such as "sleep-driving" may occur with Ambien CR alone at therapeutic doses, the use of alcohol and other CNS depressants with Ambien CR appears to increase the risk of such behaviors, as does the use of Ambien CR at doses exceeding the maximum recommended dose. Due to the risk to the patient and the community, discontinuation of Ambien CR 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 occur unpredictably.

In primarily depressed patients, worsening of depression, including suicidal thoughts and actions (including completed suicides), have been reported in association with the use of sedative/hypnotics.

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.

Withdrawal effects

Following the rapid dose decrease or abrupt discontinuation of sedative/hypnotics, there have been reports of signs and symptoms similar to those associated with withdrawal from other CNS-depressant drugs [see Drug Abuse and Dependence (9) ].

CNS depressant effects

Ambien CR, like other sedative/hypnotic drugs, has CNS-depressant effects. Due to the rapid onset of action, Ambien CR should only be taken immediately prior to going to bed. Patients should be cautioned against engaging in hazardous occupations requiring complete mental alertness or motor coordination 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 Ambien CR. Ambien CR showed additive effects when combined with alcohol and should not be taken with alcohol. Patients should also be cautioned about possible combined effects with other CNS-depressant drugs. Dosage adjustments may be necessary when Ambien CR is administered with such agents because of the potentially additive effects.

Special populations

Use in the elderly and/or debilitated patients: Impaired motor and/or cognitive performance after repeated exposure or unusual sensitivity to sedative/hypnotic drugs is a concern in the treatment of elderly and/or debilitated patients. Therefore, the recommended Ambien CR dosage is 6.25 mg in such patients to decrease the possibility of side effects [see Dosage and Administration]. These patients should be closely monitored.

Use in patients with concomitant illness: Clinical experience with Ambien CR (zolpidem tartrate) in patients with concomitant systemic illness is limited. Caution is advisable in using Ambien CR in patients with diseases or conditions that could affect metabolism or hemodynamic responses.

Although studies did not reveal respiratory depressant effects at hypnotic doses of zolpidem in normals 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 an immediate-release formulation of zolpidem tartrate (10 mg) when compared to placebo. Since sedative/hypnotics have the capacity to depress respiratory drive, precautions should be taken if Ambien CR is prescribed to patients with compromised respiratory function. Post-marketing reports of respiratory insufficiency, most of which involved patients with pre-existing respiratory impairment, have been received. Ambien CR should be used with caution in patients with sleep apnea syndrome or myasthenia gravis.

Data in end-stage renal failure patients repeatedly treated with an immediate-release formulation of zolpidem tartrate (10 mg) did not demonstrate drug accumulation or alterations in pharmacokinetic parameters. No dosage adjustment in renally impaired patients is required; however, these patients should be closely monitored [see Clinical Pharmacology].

A study in subjects with hepatic impairment did reveal prolonged elimination in this group; therefore, treatment should be initiated with Ambien CR 6.25 mg in patients with hepatic compromise, and they should be closely monitored [see Dosage and Administration and Clinical Pharmacology].

Use in patients with depression: As with other sedative/hypnotic drugs, Ambien CR 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.

Use in pediatric patients: Safety and effectiveness of zolpidem has not been established in pediatric patients. In an 8-week study in pediatric patients (aged 6–17 years) with insomnia associated with ADHD given an immediate-release oral solution of zolpidem tartrate, zolpidem did not decrease sleep latency compared to placebo. Hallucinations were reported in 7.4% of the pediatric patients who received zolpidem; none of the pediatric patients who received placebo reported hallucinations [see Use in Specific Populations].



Pregnancy Category C

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of Ambien CR in pregnant women. Ambien CR should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit outweighs the potential risk to the fetus.

Oral studies of zolpidem in pregnant rats and rabbits showed adverse effects on the development of offspring only at doses greater than the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD of 12.5 mg/day). These doses were also maternally toxic in animals. A teratogenic effect was not observed in these studies. Administration to pregnant rats during the period of organogenesis produced dose-related maternal toxicity and decreases in fetal skull ossification at doses 20 to 100 times the MRHD. The no-effect dose for embryo-fetal toxicity was 4 times the MRHD. Treatment of pregnant rabbits during organogenesis resulted in maternal toxicity at all doses studied and increased post-implantation embryo-fetal loss and under-ossification of fetal sternebrae at the highest dose (30 times the MRHD). The no-effect level for embryo-fetal toxicity was approximately 8 times the MRHD. Administration to rats during the latter part of pregnancy and throughout lactation produced maternal toxicity and decreased pup growth and survival at doses approximately 20 to 100 times the MRHD. The no-effect dose for offspring toxicity was approximately 4 times the MRHD.

Studies to assess the effects on children whose mothers took zolpidem during pregnancy have not been conducted. There is a published case report documenting the presence of zolpidem in human umbilical cord blood. Children born of mothers taking sedative/hypnotic drugs may be at some risk for withdrawal symptoms from the drug during the postnatal period. In addition, neonatal flaccidity has been reported in infants born of mothers who received sedative/hypnotic drugs during pregnancy. Cases of severe neonatal respiratory depression have been reported when zolpidem was used with other CNS depressants at the end of pregnancy.

Labor and delivery

Ambien CR has no established use in labor and delivery [see Pregnancy ].

Nursing mothers

Studies in lactating mothers indicate that the half-life of zolpidem is similar to that in young normal subjects (2.6 ± 0.3 hr). Between 0.004% and 0.019% of the total administered dose is excreted into milk. The effect of zolpidem on the nursing infant is not known. Caution should be exercised when Ambien CR is administered to a nursing mother.

Pediatric use

Safety and effectiveness of zolpidem have not been established in pediatric patients.

In an 8-week controlled study, 201 pediatric patients (aged 6–17 years) with insomnia associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (90% of the patients were using psychoanaleptics), were treated with an oral solution of zolpidem (n=136), or placebo (n = 65). Zolpidem did not significantly decrease latency to persistent sleep, compared to placebo, as measured by polysomnography after 4 weeks of treatment. 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 (7.4% vs. 0%) [see Warnings and Precautions]. Ten patients on zolpidem (7.4%) discontinued treatment due to an adverse reaction.

FDA has not required pediatric studies of Ambien CR in the pediatric population based on these efficacy and safety findings.

Geriatric use

A total of 99 elderly (≥ 65 years of age) received daily doses of 6.25 mg Ambien CR in a 3-week placebo-controlled study. The adverse reaction profile of Ambien CR 6.25 mg in this population was similar to that of Ambien CR 12.5 mg in younger adults (≤ 64 years of age). Dizziness was reported in 8% of Ambien CR-treated patients compared with 3% of those treated with placebo.

The dose of Ambien CR in elderly patients is 6.25 mg to minimize adverse effects related to impaired motor and/or cognitive performance and unusual sensitivity to sedative/hypnotic drugs [see Warnings and Precautions] .

Page last updated: 2009-10-01

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