Oxazepam is a short-to-intermediate-acting benzodiazepine. Oxazepam is used for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia and in the control of symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. It is a metabolite of diazepam, prazepam, and temazepam, and has moderate amnesic, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, hypnotic, sedative, and skeletal muscle relaxant properties compared to other benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepines belong to the group of medicines called central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which are medicines that slow down the nervous system. It was patented in 1962 and approved for medical use in 1964.
It is an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine with a slow onset of action, so it is usually prescribed to individuals who have trouble staying asleep, rather than falling asleep. It is commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders with associated tension, irritability, and agitation. It is also prescribed for drug and alcohol withdrawal, and for anxiety associated with depression. Physicians may use oxazepam outside its approved indications to treat social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, and other conditions.
The side effects of oxazepam are similar to those of other benzodiazepines, and may include dizziness, drowsiness, headache, memory impairment, paradoxical excitement, and anterograde amnesia, but does not affect transient global amnesia. Side effects due to rapid decrease in dose or abrupt withdrawal from oxazepam may include abdominal and muscle cramps, convulsions, depression, inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, sweating, tremors, or vomiting.
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Oxazepam, as with other benzodiazepine drugs, can cause tolerance, physical dependence, addiction, and benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Withdrawal from oxazepam or other benzodiazepines often leads to withdrawal symptoms which are similar to those seen during alcohol and barbiturate withdrawal.
The higher the dose and the longer the drug is taken, the greater the risk of experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can occur, though, at standard dosages and also after short-term use. Benzodiazepine treatment should be discontinued as soon as possible by a slow and gradual dose reduction regimen.
You should not use Oxazepam if you are allergic to oxazepam or other benzodiazepines (such as alprazolam, diazepam, lorazepam, midazolam, Ativan, Valium, Tranxene, Versed, Xanax, and others).
Do not use Oxazepam if you are pregnant. This medicine can cause birth defects. Your baby could also become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are taking oxazepam.
Oxazepam can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using Oxazepam.
Oxazepam is not approved for use by anyone younger than 6 years old.
Benzodiazepines require special precautions if used in the elderly, during pregnancy, in children, alcohol- or drug-dependent individuals, and individuals with comorbid psychiatric disorders. Benzodiazepines including oxazepam are lipophilic drugs and rapidly penetrate membranes, so rapidly crosses over into the placenta with significant uptake of the drug. Use of benzodiazepines in late pregnancy, especially high doses, may result in floppy infant syndrome.
Oxazepam when taken during the third trimester, causes a definite risk to the neonate including a severe benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome including hypotonia, and reluctance to suck, to apnoeic spells, cyanosis, and impaired metabolic responses to cold stress. Floppy infant syndrome and sedation in the newborn may also occur. Symptoms of floppy infant syndrome and the neonatal benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome have been reported to persist from hours to months after birth.
As oxazepam is an active metabolite of diazepam, an overlap in possible interactions is likely with other drugs or food, with exception of the pharmacokinetic CYP450 interactions (e.g. with cimetidine). Precautions and following the prescription are required when taking oxazepam (or other benzodiazepines) in combinations with antidepressant medication (SSRIs such as fluoxetine, sertraline, and paroxetine, or multiple reuptake inhibitors such as bupropion, duloxetine, or venlafaxine), potent painkillers (opioids, e.g. morphine, oxycodone or methadone).
Concurrent use of these medicines (as well as other benzodiazepines) can interact in a way that is difficult to predict. Drinking alcohol when taking oxazepam is not recommended. Concomitant use of oxazepam and alcohol can lead to increased sedation, severe problems with coordination (ataxia), decreased muscle tone, and in severe cases or in predisposed patients, even to life-threatening intoxications with respiratory depression, coma, and collapse.
There is a risk of blood circulation collapse, possibly the same condition as blood circulation syncope when oxazepam is used in combination with quetiapine, an antipsychotic.