Oxazepam will no longer be available in New Zealand once current stocks are exhausted. This is expected to be from mid-October 2020 (10 mg tablets) to mid-November 2020 (15 mg tablets). See the notification from PHARMAC here.
Oxazepam is a short-acting benzodiazepine, with a half-life of about 6 hours.
For patients currently taking oxazepam:
- Consider whether a benzodiazepine is still clinically indicated:
- Benzodiazepines are associated with considerable adverse effects, including dependency, and an increased risk of falls and cognitive impairment, especially in elderly people.
- Do not stop oxazepam suddenly if it has been used regularly for more than 2 weeks:
- Acute withdrawal of benzodiazepines can cause seizures, delirium, confusion, anxiety, insomnia, tremor, headache, paraesthesia, mood changes and agitation.
- A gradual taper should be used to improve the rate of successful discontinuation and minimise withdrawal effects.
- The New Zealand Formulary has advice for benzodiazepine withdrawal here.
- Consider alternative options to benzodiazepines for long-term management of the patient’s condition. See advice on Canterbury Community HealthPathways for anxiety or BPAC for anxiety and insomnia.
- If treatment with a benzodiazepine is still necessary, lorazepam (for anxiety or insomnia) or temazepam (for insomnia) are the closest alternatives to oxazepam with respect to their half-lives. See the New Zealand Formulary for approximate equivalent doses.
Health professionals are welcome to contact our service for more specific advice on individual patients.