The FDA announced approval of a generic version of the narcolepsy drug Xyrem, which is prescribed for cataplexy and excessive daytime sleepiness.
The use of Xyrem has been associated with serious side effects including seizures, trouble breathing, changes in alertness, coma, and death. Additionally, the active ingredient in Xyrem (and in the newly approved generic) is sodium oxybate. Sodium oxybate is the sodium salt of gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB). GHB has not been approved for any medical use and has the potential for abuse, such as in cases of sexual assault.
Because of the potential risks associated with Xyrem, it is subject to strict safety controls on prescribing and dispensing under a program called a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). FDA’s approval of generic sodium oxybate is subject to a REMS with strict safety controls that are comparable to those currently required for Xyrem.
Specifically, under both the Xyrem REMS and the generic sodium oxybate REMS, sodium oxybate can be prescribed only by a certified prescriber, and dispensed only to an enrolled patient by a certified pharmacy. Only a certified pharmacy that ships directly to patients can dispense sodium oxybate. Sodium oxybate will not be available in retail pharmacies.
Read more at www.fda.gov