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Original Research

Sleep Latency Is Shortened During 4 Weeks of Treatment With Zaleplon, a Novel Nonbenzodiazepine Hypnotic

Robert Elie, Eckart Ruther, Ibrahim Farr, Gerard Emilien, and Eliseo Salinas, for the Zaleplon Clinical Study Group

Published: August 1, 1999

Article Abstract

Background: Zaleplon is a short-acting pyrazolopyrimidine hypnotic with a rapid onset of action. This multicenter study compared the efficacy and safety of 3 doses of zaleplon with those of placebo in outpatients with DSM-III-R insomnia. Zolpidem, 10 mg, was used as an active comparator.

Method: After a 7-night placebo (baseline) period, 615 adult patients were randomly assigned to receive, in double-blind fashion, 1 of 5 treatments (zaleplon, 5, 10, or 20 mg; zolpidem, 10 mg; or placebo) for 28 nights, followed by placebo treatment for 3 nights. Sleep latency, sleep maintenance, and sleep quality were determined from sleep questionnaires that patients completed each morning. The occurrence of rebound insomnia and withdrawal effects on discontinuation of treatment was also assessed. All levels of significance were p.05.

Results: Median sleep latency was significantly lower with zaleplon, 10 and 20 mg, than with placebo during all 4 weeks of treatment and with zaleplon, 5 mg, for the first 3 weeks. Zaleplon, 20 mg, also significantly increased sleep duration compared with placebo in all but week 3 of the study. There was no evidence of rebound insomnia or withdrawal symptoms after discontinuation of 4 weeks of zaleplon treatment. Zolpidem, 10 mg, significantly decreased sleep latency, increased sleep duration, and improved sleep quality at most timepoints compared with placebo; however, after discontinuation of zolpidem treatment, the incidence of withdrawal symptoms was significantly greater than that with placebo and there was an indication of significant rebound insomnia for some patients in the zolpidem group compared with those in the placebo group. The frequency of adverse events in the active treatment groups did not differ significantly from that in the placebo group.

Conclusion: Zaleplon is effective in the treatment of insomnia. In addition, zaleplon appears to provide a favorable safety profile, as indicated by the absence of rebound insomnia and withdrawal symptoms once treatment was discontinued.

Volume: 60

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