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Drug Profile

Do NOT stop taking this or any drug without the advice of your physician. Some drugs can cause severe adverse effects when they are stopped suddenly.

Do Not Use [what does this mean?]
Generic drug name: oxazepam (ox AZ e pam)
Brand name(s):
GENERIC: available FAMILY: Benzodiazepines
Find the drug label by searching at DailyMed.

Pregnancy and Breast-feeding Warnings [top]

Pregnancy Warning

Several of the benzodiazepines have been associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations when used during the first trimester of pregnancy. Oxazepam has not been studied adequately to know whether it, too, behaves this way, but since the use of these drugs is rarely a matter of urgency, their use should be avoided by pregnant women.

Breast-feeding Warning

Benzodiazepines are excreted in human milk and have caused adverse effects, including lethargy and weight loss, in nursing infants. Because of the potential for serious adverse effects in nursing infants, you should not take this drug while nursing.

Safety Warnings For This Drug [top]

The Do Not Use classification for these three drugs only applies to their use in the treatment of high blood pressure, not when they are used to manage the symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland.

Information on the use of the alpha-blockers in the treatment of an enlarged prostate gland can be found in the chapter on prostate drugs.

If you are currently taking zolpidem and develop complex sleep behaviors, discontinue the drug immediately and seek medical help.

Otherwise, if you have been taking zolpidem for awhile, do not stop taking this drug suddenly because it may cause drug-induced dependence. Instead, work with your doctor to create a schedule to stop it gradually to avoid withdrawal reactions (including stomach cramps, vomiting, nervousness and panic attacks).

The best way to reduce the risks from sleeping pills and tranquilizers is to avoid them if at all possible. Before taking one of these powerful medications, see the Sleeping Pills and Tranquilizers section of this site for nondrug alternatives to try before using either sleeping pills or tranquilizers.

Facts About This Drug [top]

Oxazepam (SERAX; like diazepam [VALIUM], flurazepam [DALMANE] and chlordiazepoxide [LIBRIUM]) belongs to a family of drugs called benzodiazepines. It is used to treat anxiety. Because oxazepam, like all the drugs in its family, is addictive, it should not be taken to relieve the stress of daily life. (See "Rules for Safer Use of Oxazepam" above on this page.) There are safer ways to deal with occasional and short-term tension, nervousness and sleeplessness. (See "Alternatives for Anxiety"...

Oxazepam (SERAX; like diazepam [VALIUM], flurazepam [DALMANE] and chlordiazepoxide [LIBRIUM]) belongs to a family of drugs called benzodiazepines. It is used to treat anxiety. Because oxazepam, like all the drugs in its family, is addictive, it should not be taken to relieve the stress of daily life. (See "Rules for Safer Use of Oxazepam" above on this page.) There are safer ways to deal with occasional and short-term tension, nervousness and sleeplessness. (See "Alternatives for Anxiety" section in "Sleeping Pills and Tranquilizers.") Only in a very limited number of circumstances is a sleeping pill or tranquilizer really necessary

Side effects

Oxazepam can cause adverse effects common to all benzodiazepines, and older adults are more likely to experience certain ones: confusion, drowsiness, and incoordination (which can result in falls and hip fractures). The available evidence strongly suggests that the use of benzodiazepines by older people increases their risk of hip fracture by at least 50 percent. Because of the high morbidity and mortality associated with hip fracture, it can be concluded that older people should rarely be prescribed benzodiazepines and that many older people already taking these drugs should have them withdrawn under appropriate medical supervision.[1]

Regulatory action concerning oxazepam

2007: In March, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked manufacturers of these drugs to update the drug product labels concerning potential risk associated with these medications, including “severe allergic reactions and complex sleep-related behaviors.” Allergic reactions included anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) and angioedema (severe facial swelling). Complex sleep-related behaviors included sleep-driving, making phone calls and preparing and eating food while asleep.

The following medications were specifically mentioned in the FDA advisory (even though oxazepam was not mentioned in the FDA advisory, the information is included in this drug profile because oxazepam is a benzodiazepine sleeping pill/tranquilizer):

  • zolpidem (AMBIEN/AMBIEN CR — Sanofi Aventis)
  • butabarbital (BUTISOL SODIUM — Medpointe Pharmaceuticals HLC)
  • pentobabital and carbromal (CARBRITAL — Parke-Davis)
  • flurazepam (DALMANE — Valeant Pharmaceuticals)
  • quazepam (DORAL — Questcor Pharmaceuticals)
  • triazolam (HALCION — Pharmacia & Upjohn)
  • eszopiclone (LUNESTA — Sepracor)
  • ethchlorvynol (PLACIDYL — Abbott)
  • estazolam (PROSOM — Abbott)
  • temazepam (RESTORIL — Tyco Healthcare)
  • ramelteon (ROZEREM — Takeda Pharmaceutical)
  • secobarbital (SECONAL — Eli Lilly)
  • zaleplon (SONATA — King Pharmaceuticals[2]

last reviewed January 31, 2021