Guidance on the Use of Zaleplon, Zolpidem and Zopiclone for the Short-Term Management of Insomnia (TA77)

Technology Appraisal Guidance No. 77

Source: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

  • When, after due consideration of the use of non-pharmacological measures, hypnotic drug therapy is considered appropriate for the management of severe insomnia interfering with normal daily life, it is recommended that hypnotics should be prescribed for short periods of time only, in strict accordance with their licensed indications.

  • It is recommended that, because of the lack of compelling evidence to distinguish between zaleplon, zolpidem, zopiclone or the shorter-acting benzodiazepine hypnotics, the drug with the lowest purchase cost (taking into account daily required dose and product price per dose) should be prescribed.

  • It is recommended that switching from one of these hypnotics to another should only occur if a patient experiences adverse effects considered to be directly related to a specific agent. These are the only circumstances in which the drugs with the higher acquisition costs are recommended.

  • Patients who have not responded to one of these hypnotic drugs should not be prescribed any of the others.

The guidance shown above constitutes Section 1 of the full document. A copy of the full document and a summary of the evidence is available on the Internet at

Copies of the document can also be obtained by contacting 0845 003 7783 or emailing and quoting reference number N0545. 

This guidance represents the view of the Institute which was arrived at after careful consideration of the available evidence. Health professionals are expected to fully take it into account when exercising their clinical judgement. This guidance does not, however, override the individual responsibility of health professionals to make appropriate decisions in the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or guardian or carer.

© Copyright National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. All rights reserved. This material may be freely reproduced for educational and not for profit purposes within the NHS. No reproduction by or for commercial organisations is permitted without the express written permission of the Institute.

Enquiries concerning the guidance should be addressed to: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, MidCity Place, 71 High Holborn, London WC1V 6NA. email:

Guidance on the Use of Zaleplon, Zolpidem and Zopiclone for the Short-Term Management of Insomnia.
Issue Date: April 2004
Review Date: April 2007

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in

MIMS Product Slides

Product overviews prepared by the MIMS team, in a handy slide format.

Click here

Slides are initiated, funded & reviewed by the companies specified.

MIMS app

Access the full drug database and quick-reference tables on the go

Find out more