Benzodiazepines - Zopiclone and Zolpidem
Drug Alert - A recent article in the medical press highlights the potential problems with the benzodiazepine “Z” drugs (Zopiclone and Zolpidem) prescribed for insomnia. I would like to take this opportunity to remind our patients about these dangers.
Benzodiazepines are approved only for short-term use, in part because of the demonstrated loss of therapeutic effect as early as 4 weeks, and because of the risks for cognitive impairment, falls, fractures, and car accidents, as well as the abuse and dependence liability associated with the drugs, especially in the elderly. Benzodiazepines have also been implicated in the development of dementia, infections, pancreatitis, cancer, and exacerbation of respiratory disease. Nonetheless, long-term use of benzodiazepines is common and markedly increases with age.
If anyone reading this has concerns I would be delighted to hear from you. Gradually tapering the dose of medication with the aim to discontinue completely is invariably successful.