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LUNESTA (ESZOPICLONE): CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY

Pharmacodynamics

The precise mechanism of action of eszopiclone as a hypnotic is unknown, but its effect is believed to result from its interaction with GABA-receptor complexes at binding domains located close to or allosterically coupled to benzodiazepine receptors. Eszopiclone is a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic that is a pyrrolopyrazine derivative of the cyclopyrrolone class with a chemical structure unrelated to imidazopyridines, pyrazolopyrimidines, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, or other drugs with known hypnotic properties.

Pharmacokinetics

The pharmacokinetics of Eszopiclone (Lunesta) have been investigated in healthy subjects (adult and elderly) and in patients with hepatic disease or renal disease. In healthy subjects, the pharmacokinetic profile was examined after single doses of up to 7.5 mg and after once-daily administration of 1, 3, and 6 mg for 7 days. Eszopiclone is rapidly absorbed, with a time to peak concentration (tmax) of approximately 1 hour and a terminal-phase elimination half-life (t1/2) of approximately 6 hours. In healthy adults, Lunesta (Eszopiclone) does not accumulate with once-daily administration, and its exposure is dose-proportional over the range of 1 to 6 mg.

Absorption and Distribution

Eszopiclone (Lunesta) is rapidly absorbed following oral administration. Peak plasma concentrations are achieved within approximately 1 hour after oral administration. Eszopiclone is weakly bound to plasma protein (52-59%). The large free fraction suggests that eszopiclone disposition should not be affected by drug-drug interactions caused by protein binding. The blood-to-plasma ratio for eszopiclone is less than one, indicating no selective uptake by red blood cells.

Metabolism

Following oral administration, eszopiclone is extensively metabolized by oxidation and demethylation. The primary plasma metabolites are (S)-zopiclone-N-oxide and (S)-N-desmethyl zopiclone; the latter compound binds to GABA receptors with substantially lower potency than eszopiclone, and the former compound shows no significant binding to this receptor. In vitro studies have shown that CYP3A4 and CYP2E1 enzymes are involved in the metabolism of eszopiclone. Eszopiclone did not show any inhibitory potential on CYP450 1A2, 2A6, 2C9, 2C19, 2D6, 2E1, and 3A4 in cryopreserved human hepatocytes.

Elimination

After oral administration, eszopiclone is eliminated with a mean t1/2 of approximately 6 hours. Up to 75% of an oral dose of racemic zopiclone is excreted in the urine, primarily as metabolites. A similar excretion profile would be expected for eszopiclone, the Sisomer of racemic zopiclone. Less than 10% of the orally administered eszopiclone dose is excreted in the urine as parent drug.

Effect of Food

In healthy adults, administration of a 3 mg dose of Lunesta (Eszopiclone) after a high-fat meal resulted in no change in AUC, a reduction in mean Cmax of 21%, and delayed tmax by approximately 1 hour. The half-life remained unchanged, approximately 6 hours. The effects of Lunesta (Eszopiclone) tablets on sleep onset may be reduced if it is taken with or immediately after a high-fat/heavy meal.

Special Populations

Age

Compared with non-elderly adults, subjects 65 years and older had an increase of 41% in total exposure (AUC) and a slightly prolonged elimination of eszopiclone (t1/2 approximately 9 hours). Cmax was unchanged. Therefore, in elderly patients the starting dose of Lunesta (Eszopiclone) should be decreased to 1 mg and the dose should not exceed 2 mg.

Gender

The pharmacokinetics of eszopiclone in men and women are similar.

Race

In an analysis of data on all subjects participating in Phase 1 studies of eszopiclone, the pharmacokinetics for all races studied appeared similar.

Hepatic Impairment

Pharmacokinetics of a 2 mg eszopiclone dose were assessed in 16 healthy volunteers and in 8 subjects with mild, moderate, and severe liver disease. Exposure was increased 2-fold in severely impaired patients compared with the healthy volunteers. Cmax and tmax were unchanged. The dose of Eszopiclone (Lunesta) should not be increased above 2 mg in patients with severe hepatic impairment. No dose adjustment is necessary for patients with mild-to-moderate hepatic impairment. Lunesta (Eszopiclone) tablets should be used with caution in patients with hepatic impairment.

Renal Impairment

The pharmacokinetics of eszopiclone were studied in 24 patients with mild, moderate, or severe renal impairment. AUC and Cmax were similar in the patients compared with demographically matched healthy control subjects. No dose adjustment is necessary in patients with renal impairment, since less than 10% of the orally administered eszopiclone dose is excreted in the urine as parent drug.

Drug Interactions

Eszopiclone (Lunesta) is metabolized by CYP3A4 and CYP2E1 via demethylation and oxidation. There were no pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic interactions between eszopiclone and paroxetine, digoxin, or warfarin. When eszopiclone was coadministered with olanzapine, no pharmacokinetic interaction was detected in levels of eszopiclone or olanzapine, but a pharmacodynamic interaction was seen on a measure of psychomotor function. Eszopiclone and lorazepam decreased each other's Cmax by 22%. Coadministration of eszopiclone 3 mg to subjects receiving ketoconazole 400 mg, a potent inhibitor of CYP3A4, resulted in a 2.2-fold increase in exposure to eszopiclone. Eszopiclone (Lunesta) tablets would not be expected to alter the clearance of drugs metabolized by common CYP450 enzymes.

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