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Lunesta (Eszopiclone) - Warnings and Precautions



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. 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 LUNESTA. Because some of the important adverse effects of LUNESTA appear to be dose-related, it is important to use the lowest possible effective dose, especially in the elderly (see). 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. DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION

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 seem out of character), similar to effects produced by alcohol and other CNS depressants. Other reported behavioral changes have included bizarre behavior, agitation, hallucinations, and depersonalization. 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 sedative-hypnotic-naïve as well as in sedative-hypnotic-experienced persons. Although behaviors such as sleep-driving may occur with LUNESTA alone at therapeutic doses, the use of alcohol and other CNS depressants with LUNESTA appears to increase the risk of such behaviors, as does the use of LUNESTA at doses exceeding the maximum recommended dose. Due to the risk to the patient and the community, discontinuation of LUNESTA 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 and other neuropsychiatric 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 are 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.

Following rapid dose decrease or abrupt discontinuation of the use 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

LUNESTA, like other hypnotics, has CNS-depressant effects. Patients receiving LUNESTA should be cautioned against engaging in hazardous occupations requiring complete mental alertness or motor coordination (e.g., operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle) after ingesting the drug, and be cautioned about potential impairment of the performance of such activities on the day following ingestion of LUNESTA. LUNESTA, like other hypnotics, may produce additive CNS-depressant effects when coadministered with other psychotropic medications, anticonvulsants, antihistamines, ethanol, and other drugs that themselves produce CNS depression. LUNESTA should not be taken with alcohol. Dose adjustment may be necessary when LUNESTA is administered with other CNS-depressant agents, because of the potentially additive effects. Because of the rapid onset of action, LUNESTA should only be ingested immediately prior to going to bed or after the patient has gone to bed and has experienced difficulty falling asleep.

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 LUNESTA. 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 LUNESTA should not be rechallenged with the drug.



Timing Of Drug Administration

LUNESTA should be taken immediately before bedtime. Taking a sedative/hypnotic while still up and about may result in short-term memory impairment, hallucinations, impaired coordination, dizziness, and lightheadedness.

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. The recommended starting dose of LUNESTA for these patients is 1 mg. (See) . DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION

Use In Patients With Concomitant Illness

Clinical experience with eszopiclone in patients with concomitant illness is limited. Eszopiclone should be used with caution in patients with diseases or conditions that could affect metabolism or hemodynamic responses.

A study in healthy volunteers did not reveal respiratory-depressant effects at doses 2.5-fold higher (7 mg) than the recommended dose of eszopiclone. Caution is advised, however, if LUNESTA is prescribed to patients with compromised respiratory function.

The dose of LUNESTA should be reduced to 1 mg in patients with severe hepatic impairment, because systemic exposure is doubled in such subjects. No dose adjustment appears necessary for subjects with mild or moderate hepatic impairment. No dose adjustment appears necessary in subjects with any degree of renal impairment, since less than 10% of eszopiclone is excreted unchanged in the urine.

The dose of LUNESTA should be reduced in patients who are administered potent inhibitors of CYP3A4, such as ketoconazole, while taking LUNESTA. Downward dose adjustment is also recommended when LUNESTA is administered with agents having known CNS-depressant effects.

Use In Patients With Depression

Sedative/hypnotic drugs should be administered with caution to patients exhibiting signs and symptoms of depression. Suicidal tendencies may be present in such patients, and protective measures may be required. Intentional overdose 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

Patients should be given the following information: Patients should be instructed to read the accompanying Medication Guide with each new prescription and refill. The complete text of the Medication Guide is reprinted at the end of this document.

  1. Patients should be instructed to take LUNESTA immediately prior to going to bed, and only if they can dedicate 8 hours to sleep.
  2. Patients should be instructed not to take LUNESTA with alcohol or with other sedating medications.
  3. Patients should be advised to consult with their physician if they have a history of depression, mental illness, or suicidal thoughts, have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, or have liver disease.
  4. Women should be advised to contact their physician if they become pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or if they are nursing.

SPECIAL CONCERNS “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 LUNESTA is taken with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants (see). 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. WARNINGS

Laboratory Tests

There are no specific laboratory tests recommended.

Drug Interactions

CNS-Active Drugs

An additive effect on psychomotor performance was seen with coadministration of eszopiclone and ethanol 0.70 g/kg for up to 4 hours after ethanol administration. Ethanol:

Coadministration of single doses of eszopiclone 3 mg and paroxetine 20 mg daily for 7 days produced no pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic interaction. Paroxetine:

Coadministration of single doses of eszopiclone 3 mg and lorazepam 2 mg did not have clinically relevant effects on the pharmacodynamics or pharmacokinetics of either drug. Lorazepam:

Coadministration of eszopiclone 3 mg and olanzapine 10 mg produced a decrease in DSST scores. The interaction was pharmacodynamic; there was no alteration in the pharmacokinetics of either drug. Olanzapine:

Drugs That Inhibit CYP3A4 (Ketoconazole)

CYP3A4 is a major metabolic pathway for elimination of eszopiclone. The AUC of eszopiclone was increased 2.2-fold by coadministration of ketoconazole, a potent inhibitor of CYP3A4, 400 mg daily for 5 days. C and t were increased 1.4-fold and 1.3-fold, respectively. Other strong inhibitors of CYP3A4 (e.g., itraconazole, clarithromycin, nefazodone, troleandomycin, ritonavir, nelfinavir) would be expected to behave similarly. max 1/2

Drugs That Induce CYP3A4 (Rifampicin)

Racemic zopiclone exposure was decreased 80% by concomitant use of rifampicin, a potent inducer of CYP3A4. A similar effect would be expected with eszopiclone.

Drugs Highly Bound To Plasma Protein

Eszopiclone is not highly bound to plasma proteins (52-59% bound); therefore, the disposition of eszopiclone is not expected to be sensitive to alterations in protein binding. Administration of eszopiclone 3 mg to a patient taking another drug that is highly protein-bound would not be expected to cause an alteration in the free concentration of either drug.

Drugs With A Narrow Therapeutic Index

A single dose of eszopiclone 3 mg did not affect the pharmacokinetics of digoxin measured at steady state following dosing of 0.5 mg twice daily for one day and 0.25 mg daily for the next 6 days. Digoxin:

Eszopiclone 3 mg administered daily for 5 days did not affect the pharmacokinetics of ()- or ()-warfarin, nor were there any changes in the pharmacodynamic profile (prothrombin time) following a single 25 mg oral dose of warfarin. Warfarin: R S

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility


In a carcinogenicity study in Sprague-Dawley rats in which eszopiclone was given by oral gavage, no increases in tumors were seen; plasma levels (AUC) of eszopiclone at the highest dose used in this study (16 mg/kg/day) are estimated to be 80 (females) and 20 (males) times those in humans receiving the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD). However, in a carcinogenicity study in Sprague-Dawley rats in which racemic zopiclone was given in the diet, and in which plasma levels of eszopiclone were reached that were greater than those reached in the above study of eszopiclone, an increase in mammary gland adenocarcinomas in females and an increase in thyroid gland follicular cell adenomas and carcinomas in males were seen at the highest dose of 100 mg/kg/day. Plasma levels of eszopiclone at this dose are estimated to be 150 (females) and 70 (males) times those in humans receiving the MRHD. The mechanism for the increase in mammary adenocarcinomas is unknown. The increase in thyroid tumors is thought to be due to increased levels of TSH secondary to increased metabolism of circulating thyroid hormones, a mechanism that is not considered to be relevant to humans.

In a carcinogenicity study in B6C3F1 mice in which racemic zopiclone was given in the diet, an increase in pulmonary carcinomas and carcinomas plus adenomas in females and an increase in skin fibromas and sarcomas in males were seen at the highest dose of 100 mg/kg/day. Plasma levels of eszopiclone at this dose are estimated to be 8 (females) and 20 (males) times those in humans receiving the MRHD. The skin tumors were due to skin lesions induced by aggressive behavior, a mechanism that is not relevant to humans. A carcinogenicity study was also performed in which CD-1 mice were given eszopiclone at doses up to 100 mg/kg/day by oral gavage; although this study did not reach a maximum tolerated dose, and was thus inadequate for overall assessment of carcinogenic potential, no increases in either pulmonary or skin tumors were seen at doses producing plasma levels of eszopiclone estimated to be 90 times those in humans receiving the MRHD — i.e., 12 times the exposure in the racemate study.

Eszopiclone did not increase tumors in a p53 transgenic mouse bioassay at oral doses up to 300 mg/kg/day.


Eszopiclone was positive in the mouse lymphoma chromosomal aberration assay and produced an equivocal response in the Chinese hamster ovary cell chromosomal aberration assay. It was not mutagenic or clastogenic in the bacterial Ames gene mutation assay, in an unscheduled DNA synthesis assay, or in an mouse bone marrow micronucleus assay. in vivo

()-N-desmethyl zopiclone, a metabolite of eszopiclone, was positive in the Chinese hamster ovary cell and human lymphocyte chromosomal aberration assays. It was negative in the bacterial Ames mutation assay, in an P-postlabeling DNA adduct assay, and in an mouse bone marrow chromosomal aberration and micronucleus assay. S in vitro 32 in vivo

Impairment Of Fertility

Eszopiclone was given by oral gavage to male rats at doses up to 45 mg/kg/day from 4 weeks premating through mating and to female rats at doses up to 180 mg/kg/day from 2 weeks premating through day 7 of pregnancy. An additional study was performed in which only females were treated, up to 180 mg/kg/day. Eszopiclone decreased fertility, probably because of effects in both males and females, with no females becoming pregnant when both males and females were treated with the highest dose; the no-effect dose in both sexes was 5 mg/kg (16 times the MRHD on a mg/m basis). Other effects included increased pre-implantation loss (no-effect dose 25 mg/kg), abnormal estrus cycles (no-effect dose 25 mg/kg), and decreases in sperm number and motility and increases in morphologically abnormal sperm (no-effect dose 5 mg/kg). 2


Pregnancy Category C

Eszopiclone administered by oral gavage to pregnant rats and rabbits during the period of organogenesis showed no evidence of teratogenicity up to the highest doses tested (250 and 16 mg/kg/day in rats and rabbits, respectively; these doses are 800 and 100 times, respectively, the maximum recommended human dose [MRHD] on a mg/m basis). In the rat, slight reductions in fetal weight and evidence of developmental delay were seen at maternally toxic doses of 125 and 150 mg/kg/day, but not at 62.5 mg/kg/day (200 times the MRHD on a mg/m basis). 2 2

Eszopiclone was also administered by oral gavage to pregnant rats throughout the pregnancy and lactation periods at doses of up to 180 mg/kg/day. Increased post-implantation loss, decreased postnatal pup weights and survival, and increased pup startle response were seen at all doses; the lowest dose tested, 60 mg/kg/day, is 200 times the MRHD on a mg/m basis. These doses did not produce significant maternal toxicity. Eszopiclone had no effects on other behavioral measures or reproductive function in the offspring. 2

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

Labor And Delivery

LUNESTA has no established use in labor and delivery.

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether LUNESTA is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when LUNESTA is administered to a nursing woman.

Pediatric Use

Safety and effectiveness of eszopiclone in children below the age of 18 have not been established.

Geriatric Use

A total of 287 subjects in double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled clinical trials who received eszopiclone were 65 to 86 years of age. The overall pattern of adverse events for elderly subjects (median age = 71 years) in 2-week studies with nighttime dosing of 2 mg eszopiclone was not different from that seen in younger adults (see). LUNESTA 2 mg exhibited significant reduction in sleep latency and improvement in sleep maintenance in the elderly population. , ADVERSE REACTIONS Table 2

Page last updated: 2011-12-21

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