Zolpidem (Ambien) on Backorder: What You Need to Know

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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Popular sleep medication zolpidem (generic Ambien) has been on backorder from several generic manufacturers since late December 2015. This could make zolpidem harder to find in your local pharmacy, so you may want to call ahead before your next refill to make sure your prescription is in stock.

Which zolpidem products are affected by the backorder?

From manufacturer Aurobindo:

From manufacturer Major:

From manufacturer Mylan:

From manufacturer Mylan Institutional:

Are there any generic zolpidem tablets that aren’t affected?

Yes. The following manufacturers are not having production problems and are currently supplying zolpidem:

Sanofi-Aventis also has brand-name Ambien 10 mg tablets available.

What’s the reason for the backorder?

Frustrating as it may be to not have a reason for why you can’t find your prescription in pharmacies, none of the affected manufacturers (Aurobindo, Major, and Mylan) could provide a reason for the backorder.

When will the backordered versions of zolpidem be available again?

Again, almost none of the affected manufacturers can provide an estimated release date. The exception is Mylan—they predicted that the 5 mg tablets affected by the shortage would be available again in mid-January 2016. Check with your pharmacy if this is your preferred generic; they may be starting to get the Mylan 5 mg tablets back in stock.

What can I do if my prescription is affected?

If you prefer to use zolpidem from a particular manufacturer and your pharmacy does not have it in stock, your pharmacist can usually transfer your prescription to another pharmacy location in the same chain (for example, a different CVS store) or to any other pharmacy of your choice.

However, keep this in mind: controlled substances have rules about how many times your prescription can be transferred—for zolpidem, you can only transfer your prescription to a different pharmacy one time. This meant that if you’ve transferred your prescription once before for any reason, you won’t be able to do it again without a new prescription from your doctor.

If I can’t transfer my prescription, what are my options?

You have three options:

  1. Your pharmacist can fill your prescription with zolpidem tablets from one of the available manufacturers.
  2. You can get a new prescription for zolpidem from your doctor.
  3. Your doctor can call in a prescription for a different sleep medication.

Want more information?

See this announcement from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) regarding the zolpidem shortage.

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