On December 5, 2012 an article was published online by the international journal Thorax that outlined an increased risk of pneumonia in patients who were taking a benzodiazepine. Researchers utilized statistical analyses to determine the association between benzodiazepines, pneumonia, and outcome mortality. Participants consisted of 29,697 controls and 4,964 individuals who had community-acquired pneumonia (CAP).
Researchers found that patient exposures to benzodiazepines (diazepam, lorazepam and temazepam) were linked to elevated risk of contraction of pneumonia. The entire class of drugs was associated with higher rates of mortality in patients who had been diagnosed with CAP, both long- and short-term. Diazepam, chlordiazepoxide, lorazepam and temazepam were found to contribute to long-term mortality in patients with a prior diagnosis of CAP.
Researchers concluded that there is an elevated danger of contracting in patients that use benzodiazepines, and that these patients have a higher risk of mortality. Investigators stated that such data is evidence that patients may benefit from utilization of different drugs for intensive care unit sedation.
Benzodiazepines (Ativan, Diastat, Librax, Restoril, Valium) are a class of psychoactive drugs. These drugs have sedative, hypnotic (sleep-inducing), anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant, and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties. Benzodiazepines may be prescribed to treat epilepsy, panic disorders, anxiety disorders, insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Librium (chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride) was discovered in the 1950’s, and was the first benzodiazepine approved by the FDA.
FAERS data (from 11/01/1997 to 06/30/2012) was aggregated and standardized by the AdverseEvent RxFilter process. We identified 142 cases that listed benzodiazepines as the primary suspect for patients with pneumonia. We identified 87 hospitalizations and 55 patient deaths where benzodiazepines were determined to be the primary suspect for patients with pneumonia.
Note: This analysis does not take into account the number of patients taking each medication. In order to calculate the number of cases involving benzodiazepines, we aggregated cases that reported the following drugs as the primary suspect at the time of the adverse event: Ativan, Diastat, Librax, Restoril, Valium. In order to calculate the number of adverse event cases involving pneumonia, we aggregated cases for patients reporting the following conditions at the time of the adverse event: Preferred Term: , Atypical mycobacterial pneumonia, Bronchopneumonia, Candida pneumonia, Congenital pneumonia, Embolic pneumonia, Enterobacter pneumonia, Eosinophilic pneumonia acute, Eosinophilic pneumonia chronic, Eosinophilic pneumonia, Idiopathic pneumonia syndrome, Lobar pneumonia, Miliary pneumonia, Organising pneumonia, Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia, Pneumonia adenoviral, Pneumonia anthrax, Pneumonia aspiration, Pneumonia bacterial, Pneumonia blastomyces, Pneumonia bordetella, Pneumonia chlamydial, Pneumonia cryptococcal, Pneumonia cytomegaloviral, Pneumonia escherichia, Pneumonia fungal, Pneumonia haemophilus, Pneumonia helminthic, Pneumonia herpes viral, Pneumonia influenzal, Pneumonia klebsiella, Pneumonia legionella, Pneumonia lipoid, Pneumonia measles, Pneumonia moraxella, Pneumonia mycoplasmal, Pneumonia necrotising, Pneumonia parainfluenzae viral, Pneumonia pneumococcal, Pneumonia primary atypical, Pneumonia respiratory syncytial viral, Pneumonia salmonella, Pneumonia staphylococcal, Pneumonia streptococcal, Pneumonia toxoplasmal, Pneumonia tularaemia, Pneumonia viral, Pneumonia.