Included as part of the “PRECAUTIONS” Section
CNS-Depressant Effects And Next-Day Impairment
AMBIEN, like other sedative-hypnotic drugs, has central nervous system (CNS) depressant effects. Coadministration 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 coadministered with other CNS depressants or alcohol; or if coadministered with other drugs that increase the blood levels of zolpidem. Patients should be warned against driving and other activities requiring complete mental alertness if AMBIEN is taken in these circumstances [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, Clinical Studies].
Vehicle drivers and machine operators should be warned that, as with other hypnotics, there may be a possible risk of adverse reactions including drowsiness, prolonged reaction time, dizziness, sleepiness, blurred/double vision, reduced alertness and impaired driving the morning after therapy. In order to minimize this risk a full night of sleep (7-8 hours) is recommended.
Need To Evaluate For Comorbid 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 coadministration 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. Postmarketing 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.
Precipitation Of Hepatic Encephalopathy
Drugs affecting GABA receptors, such as zolpidem tartrate, have been associated with precipitation of hepatic encephalopathy in patients with hepatic insufficiency. In addition, patients with hepatic insufficiency do not clear zolpidem tartrate as rapidly as patients with normal hepatic function. Avoid AMBIEN use in patients with severe hepatic impairment as it may contribute to encephalopathy [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION , Use In Specific Populations , CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].
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].
Zolpidem can cause drowsiness and a decreased level of consciousness, which may lead to falls and consequently to severe injuries. Severe injuries such as hip fractures and intracranial hemorrhage have been reported.
Patient Counseling Information
Advise the patient to read the 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.
Advise patients to notify their healthcare provider if they become pregnant or intend to become pregnant during treatment with AMBIEN. Advise patients that use of AMBIEN late in the third trimester may cause respiratory depression and sedation in neonates. Advise mothers who used AMBIEN during the late third trimester of pregnancy to monitor neonates for signs of sleepiness (more than usual), breathing difficulties, or limpness [see Use In Specific Populations].
Advise breastfeeding mothers using AMBIEN to monitor infants for increased sleepiness, breathing difficulties, or limpness. Instruct breastfeeding mothers to seek immediate medical care if they notice these signs. A lactating woman may consider pumping and discarding breastmilk during treatment and for 23 hours after AMBIEN administration to minimize drug exposure to a breastfed infant [see Use In Specific Populations].
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/day. In mice, these doses are approximately 2.5, 10, and 50 times the MRHD of 10 mg/day (8 mg zolpidem base) based on mg/m2 body surface area and in rats, these doses are approximately 5, 20, and 100 times the MRHD based on mg/m2 body surface area. 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
Zolpidem was administered to rats at 4, 20, and 100 mg base/kg/day, which are approximately 5, 25, and 120 times the MRHD of 10 mg/day (8 mg zolpidem base) based on mg/m2 body surface area, prior to and during mating, and continuing in females through postpartum day 25. Zolpidem caused irregular estrus cycles and prolonged precoital intervals at the highest dose tested, which is approximately 120 times the MRHD based on mg/m2 body surface area. The NOAEL for these effects is 25 times the MRHD based on a mg/m2 body surface area. There was no impairment of fertility at any dose tested.
Use In Specific Populations
Neonates born to mothers using zolpidem late in the third trimester of pregnancy have been reported to experience symptoms of respiratory depression and sedation [see Clinical Considerations and Data]. Published data on the use of zolpidem during pregnancy have not reported a clear association with zolpidem and major birth defects [see Data]. Oral administration of zolpidem to pregnant rats and rabbits did not indicate a risk for adverse effects on fetal development at clinically relevant doses [see Data].
The estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage for the indicated populations are unknown. All pregnancies have a background risk of birth defect, loss, or other adverse outcomes. In the U.S. general population, the estimated background risk of major birth defects and miscarriage in clinically recognized pregnancies is 2%-4% and 15%-20%, respectively.
Fetal/neonatal adverse reactions
Zolpidem crosses the placenta and may produce respiratory depression and sedation in neonates. Monitor neonates exposed to AMBIEN during pregnancy and labor for signs of excess sedation, hypotonia, and respiratory depression and manage accordingly.
Published data from observational studies, birth registries, and case reports on the use of zolpidem during pregnancy do not report a clear association with zolpidem and major birth defects.
There are limited postmarketing reports of severe to moderate cases of respiratory depression that occurred after birth in neonates whose mothers had taken zolpidem during pregnancy. These cases required artificial ventilation or intratracheal intubation. The majority of neonates recovered within hours to a few weeks after birth once treated.
Zolpidem has been shown to cross the placenta.
Oral administration of zolpidem to pregnant rats during the period of organogenesis at 4, 20, and 100 mg base/kg/day, which are approximately 5, 25, and 120 times the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) of 10 mg/day (8 mg zolpidem base) based on mg/m2 body surface area, caused delayed fetal development (incomplete fetal skeletal ossification) at maternally toxic (ataxia) doses 25 and 120 times the MRHD based on mg/m2 body surface area.
Oral administration of zolpidem to pregnant rabbits during the period of organogenesis at 1, 4, and 16 mg base/kg/day, which are approximately 2.5, 10, and 40 times the MRHD of 10 mg/day (8 mg zolpidem base) based on mg/m2 body surface area caused embryo-fetal death and delayed fetal development (incomplete fetal skeletal ossification) at a maternally toxic (decreased body weight gain) dose 40 times the MRHD based on mg/m2 body surface area.
Oral administration of zolpidem to pregnant rats from day 15 of gestation through lactation at 4, 20, and 100 mg base/kg/day, which are approximately 5, 25, and 120 times the MRHD of 10 mg/day (8 mg zolpidem base) based on mg/m2 body surface area, delayed offspring growth and decreased survival at doses 25 and 120 times, respectively, the MRHD based on mg/m2 body surface area.
Limited data from published literature report the presence of zolpidem in human milk. There are reports of excess sedation in infants exposed to zolpidem through breastmilk [see Clinical Considerations]. There is no information on the effects of zolpidem on milk production. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother’s clinical need for AMBIEN and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed infant from AMBIEN or from the underlying maternal condition.
Infants exposed to AMBIEN through breastmilk should be monitored for excess sedation, hypotonia, and respiratory depression. A lactating woman may consider interrupting breastfeeding and pumping and discarding breast milk during treatment and for 23 hours (approximately 5 elimination half-lives) after AMBIEN administration in order to minimize drug exposure to a breast fed infant.
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.
The recommended dose of AMBIEN in patients with mild to moderate hepatic impairment is 5 mg once daily immediately before bedtime. Avoid AMBIEN use in patients with severe hepatic impairment as it may contribute to encephalopathy [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION , WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS , CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY].