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CNS Drugs. 2010 Aug;24(8):713-20. doi: 10.2165/11200810-000000000-00000.

Low-dose doxepin: in the treatment of insomnia.

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Adis, a Wolters Kluwer Business, Auckland, New Zealand.


Doxepin binds with high specificity and affinity to the histamine H(1) receptor compared with other receptors. Therefore, at low doses, doxepin selectively antagonises H(1) receptors, which is believed to promote the initiation and maintenance of sleep. In three large, well designed, phase III trials in adult or elderly patients with chronic primary insomnia, oral, low-dose doxepin 3 or 6 mg once daily improved wake time after sleep onset, total sleep time and sleep efficiency to a significantly greater extent than placebo. Significant between-group differences in polysomnographic sleep recordings that favoured low-dose doxepin were evident after a single administration of the drug. Other efficacy measures, including patient-reported sleep quality, also favoured low-dose doxepin over placebo. Symptom control was maintained for up to 12 weeks of low-dose doxepin administration and there was no evidence of physical dependence or worsening insomnia after doxepin withdrawal. Oral, low-dose doxepin 6 mg was also significantly more effective than placebo in a large, well designed trial modelling transient insomnia in healthy adults, according to polysomnographic recordings (e.g. in latency to persistent sleep). Oral, low-dose doxepin was generally well tolerated in clinical trials.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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