Effectiveness of non-benzodiazepine hypnotics in treatment of adult insomnia: Meta-analysis of data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration

Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of Connecticut, 358 Mansfield Road U-2101, Storrs, CT 06269-2101, USA.
BMJ: British medical journal (Impact Factor: 17.45). 12/2012; 345:e8343. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e8343
Source: PubMed


To investigate the effectiveness of non-benzodiazepine hypnotics (Z drugs) and associated placebo responses in adults and to evaluate potential moderators of effectiveness in a dataset used to approve these drugs.
Systematic review and meta-analysis.
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Randomised double blind parallel placebo controlled trials of currently approved Z drugs (eszopiclone, zaleplon, and zolpidem).
Change score from baseline to post-test for drug and placebo groups; drug efficacy analysed as the difference of both change scores. Weighted raw and standardised mean differences with their confidence intervals under random effects assumptions for polysomnographic and subjective sleep latency, as primary outcomes. Secondary outcomes included waking after sleep onset, number of awakenings, total sleep time, sleep efficiency, and subjective sleep quality. Weighted least square regression analysis was used to explain heterogeneity of drug effects.
13 studies containing 65 separate drug-placebo comparisons by type of outcome, type of drug, and dose were included. Studies included 4378 participants from different countries and varying drug doses, lengths of treatment, and study years. Z drugs showed significant, albeit small, improvements (reductions) in our primary outcomes: polysomnographic sleep latency (weighted standardised mean difference, 95% confidence interval -0.57 to -0.16) and subjective sleep latency (-0.33, -0.62 to -0.04) compared with placebo. Analyses of weighted mean raw differences showed that Z drugs decreased polysomnographic sleep latency by 22 minutes (-33 to -11 minutes) compared with placebo. Although no significant effects were found in secondary outcomes, there were insufficient studies reporting these outcomes to allow firm conclusions. Moderator analyses indicated that sleep latency was more likely to be reduced in studies published earlier, with larger drug doses, with longer duration of treatment, with a greater proportion of younger and/or female patients, and with zolpidem.
Compared with placebo, Z drugs produce slight improvements in subjective and polysomnographic sleep latency, especially with larger doses and regardless of type of drug. Although the drug effect and the placebo response were rather small and of questionable clinical importance, the two together produced to a reasonably large clinical response.

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    • "This is contrary to current evidence derived from meta-analyses of randomized trials. The improvements in sleep latency were found to be small when compared with placebo and the non-specific placebo response is a major contributor to the effectiveness of hypnotics [14], [15]. Another interesting finding is that the overall ratio of benefits and harms of Z-drugs in elder patients was comparable to their younger counterparts or even rated more positive. "
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