Gamma Hydroxybutyrate Sodium

Name: Gamma Hydroxybutyrate Sodium

Why is this medication prescribed?

Sodium oxybate is used to prevent attacks of cataplexy (episodes of muscle weakness that begin suddenly and last for a short time) and excessive daytime sleepiness in patients who have narcolepsy (a sleep disorder that may cause extreme sleepiness, sudden uncontrollable urge to sleep during daily activities, and cataplexy). Sodium oxybate is in a class of medications called central nervous system depressants. The way that sodium oxybate works to treat narcolepsy is not known.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking sodium oxybate,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to sodium oxybate, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in sodium oxybate liquid. Ask your pharmacist or check the medication guide for a list of the ingredients..
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have or ever had succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase deficiency (an inherited condition in which certain substances build up in the body and cause retardation and developmental delays), Your doctor will probably tell you not to take sodium oxybate.
  • tell your doctor if you are following a low salt diet for medical reasons. Also tell your doctor if you snore; if you have ever thought about harming or killing yourself or planned or tried to do so; and if you have or have ever had lung disease, difficulty breathing, sleep apnea (a sleep disorder that causes breathing to stop for short periods during sleep), seizures, depression, heart failure, high blood pressure, or liver or kidney disease.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking sodium oxybate, call your doctor.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking sodium oxybate.
  • you should know that you will be very sleepy for at least 6 hours after you take sodium oxybate, and you may also be drowsy during the daytime. Do not drive a car, operate machinery, or perform any other dangerous activities for at least 6 hours after you take your medication. Avoid dangerous activities at all times until you know how sodium oxybate affects you.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Sodium oxybate may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • bedwetting
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • feeling drunk
  • shaking of a part of your body that you cannot control
  • feelings of numbness, tingling, pricking, burning, or creeping on the skin
  • difficulty moving when sleeping or upon waking
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • stomach pain
  • back pain
  • weakness
  • swelling of the arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • sweating

Some side effects can be serious. The following symptoms are uncommon, but if you experience any of them or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:

  • sleepwalking
  • abnormal dreams
  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • confusion or memory problems
  • thoughts of harming or killing yourself
  • feeling that others want to harm you
  • hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
  • loss of contact with reality
  • breathing problems, snoring, or sleep apnea
  • excessive drowsiness during the day

Sodium oxybate may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children and pets. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Flush any medication that is outdated or no longer needed down the toilet. Also, flush any unused mixtures of sodium oxybate and water down the toilet if it is more than 24 hours after preparation. Ask your doctor or call the central pharmacy if you have questions about the proper disposal of your medication.

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach.

Brand names

  • Xyrem®