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Drug Saf. 1999 Dec;21(6):457-69.

A comparative assessment of the risks and benefits of zopiclone: a review of 15 years' clinical experience.

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Department of Psychiatry, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Germany.


Zopiclone is a cyclopyrrolone hypnosedative that is chemically unrelated to the benzodiazepines but nevertheless potentiates gamma-aminobutyric acid-mediated neuronal inhibition, and has demonstrated proven efficacy and good tolerability in the treatment of insomnia over 15 years of use. Zopiclone is indicated for short term use, and should not be prescribed for more than 4 weeks. This review compares the efficacy of zopiclone with that of a number of commonly used short-, medium- and long-acting benzodiazepines. Zopiclone at dosages of 7.5 mg/day has demonstrated efficacy equivalent and in some cases greater to that of flurazepam 30 mg/day, nitrazepam 5 mg/day, flunitrazepam 1 to 2 mg/day, temazepam 20 mg/day, triazolam 0.125 to 0.5 mg/day and midazolam 15 mg/day. Zopiclone-treated patients reported themselves to be less impaired by daytime sedation than patients treated with the medium- and long-acting hypnosedatives flurazepam, nitrazepam and flunitrazepam. Zopiclone and temazepam showed similar effects on daytime behaviour while zopiclone appeared to have somewhat better effects on daytime well-being than the short-acting triazolam and midazolam. There has been no clinical comparison with the frequently used medium-acting benzodiazepines lormetazepam and brotizolam and the imidazopyridine hypnosedative zolpidem. Data from clinical trials, pooled analyses and postmarketing surveillance including over 30,000 patients showed that with the exception of bitter taste (reported by <10% of zopiclone recipients), the tolerability profile of zopiclone is similar to that of placebo. Clinical trials found no evidence for significant rebound insomnia and indicated that the risk of withdrawal reactions with therapeutic doses of zopiclone is very low. In addition, to date, dependency appears very low, although abuse potential should be considered following a history of addiction or psychiatric illness. Evaluation of the accumulated evidence from over 2.5 billion units dispensed in more than 30 countries indicates that zopiclone is effective, well tolerated and an excellent alternative to benzodiazepines in the short term treatment of insomnia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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