Effects of a short course of eszopiclone on continuous positive airway pressure adherence: a randomized trial

Ann Intern Med. 2009 Nov 17;151(10):696-702. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-151-10-200911170-00006.


Background: Adherence to short-term continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may predict long-term use. Unfortunately, initial CPAP intolerance may lead to poor adherence or abandonment of therapy.

Objective: To determine whether a short course of eszopiclone at the onset of therapy improves long-term CPAP adherence more than placebo in adults with obstructive sleep apnea.

Design: Parallel randomized, placebo-controlled trial from March 2007 to December 2008. Randomization, maintained and concealed centrally by pharmacy personnel, was computer-generated using fixed blocks of 10. Referring physicians, investigators, and patients were blinded to the treatment assignment until after the final data were collected. (ClinicalTrials.gov registration number: NCT00612157).

Setting: Academic sleep disorder center.

Patients: 160 adults (mean age, 45.7 years [SD, 7.3]; mean apnea-hypopnea index, 36.9 events/h [SD, 23]) with newly diagnosed obstructive sleep apnea initiating CPAP.

Intervention: Eszopiclone, 3 mg (n = 76), or matching placebo (n = 78) for the first 14 nights of CPAP.

Measurements: Use of CPAP was measured weekly for 24 weeks. Adherence to CPAP (primary outcome) and the rate of CPAP discontinuation and improvements in symptoms (secondary outcomes) were compared. Follow-up at 1, 3, and 6 months was completed by 150, 136, and 120 patients, respectively.

Results: Patients in the eszopiclone group used CPAP for 20.8% more nights (95% CI, 7.2% to 34.4%; P = 0.003), 1.3 more hours per night for all nights (CI, 0.4 to 2.2 hours; P = 0.005), and 1.1 more hours per night of CPAP use (CI, 0.2 to 2.1 hours; P = 0.019). The hazard ratio for discontinuation of CPAP was 1.90 (CI, 1.1 to 3.4; P = 0.033) times higher in the placebo group. Side effects were reported in 7.1% of patients and did not differ between groups.

Limitations: Patients had severe obstructive sleep apnea treated at a specialized sleep center with frequent follow-up; results may not be generalizable to different settings. Patients' tolerance to CPAP and their reasons for discontinuation were not assessed.

Conclusion: Compared with placebo, a short course of eszopiclone during the first 2 weeks of CPAP improved adherence and led to fewer patients discontinuing therapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Azabicyclo Compounds / administration & dosage*
  • Azabicyclo Compounds / adverse effects
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eszopiclone
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage*
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Piperazines / administration & dosage*
  • Piperazines / adverse effects
  • Random Allocation
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*


  • Azabicyclo Compounds
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Piperazines
  • Eszopiclone

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00612157