Zopiclone (RP 27 267) is an hypnotic with a chemical structure different from that of the benzodiazepines (BZD) or barbiturates. Studies of zopiclone in classical psycho-pharmacological tests, in comparison with BZD and barbiturates, have shown that it exhibits the five main types of activity considered as characteristic of the pharmacological profile of BZD and partly of that of barbiturates (anticonvulsant, myorelaxant, antiaggressive, sedative-hypnotic and ‘anticonflict’). However, like BZD, zopiclone differs from barbiturates by a high safety margin. Electrophysiological studies performed in cats have shown that zopiclone induces modifications in sleep-wakefulness pattern which are close to those observed with BZD, specially with nitrazepam. Moreover, zopiclone increases the threshold for arousal by reticular formation stimulation, rather more than nitrazepam, but with a shorter duration of action. The short duration of action of zopiclone has been demonstrated in other species using different tests.

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