This is one of the most well-known drugs to treat insomnia, used for more than 50 years as a tranquilizer. It is a benzodiazepine derivative (oxazepam) interacting with the central nervous system to inhibit neurotransmission. Seresta® is largely used for the management of anxiety disorders, social phobia, sleep terrors, but also for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal.

Oxazepam (Seresta®, Serax®, Sobril®, 1965) belongs to a large call of benzodiazepines that includes diazepam (Valium, 1963), flurazepam (Dalmane, 1970), lorazepam (Ativan, 1977), alprazolam (Xanax, 1981), temazepam (Restoril, 1981), triazolam (Halcion, 1982), midazolam (Versed, 1985), quazepam (Doral, 1985), estazolam (ProSom, 1990), clonazepam (Klonopin, 1997), clobazam (2011), and others such as the very well-known drug clorazepate (Tranxene, 1972), to cite only a few. The class is large (temazepam, demoxazepam, halazepam, medazepam, prazepam, pinazepam, etc). These psychoactive drugs represent highly effective hypnotic and anxiolytic agents and among the most frequently used drugs in the world.


Oxazepam is an orally available agonist of the γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptor (GABAAR). It is a short-acting benzodiazepine, rapidly glucuronidated in vivo. The clinical form is a racemic formulation, with S-enantiomer being more active than R-enantiomer. It is also a metabolite of diazepam. Upon activation of GABA A receptors, oxazepam efficiently modulates neurotransmission.

The extensive used of this drug and related anxiolytic compounds poses problem of environmental exposure to the benzodiazepines, in particular in aquatic environments. Pollution by psychoactive pharmaceuticals has been found to disrupt anti-predator behaviors of wild fishes and other aquatic species. Removal from oxazepam contamination is possible and usually effective, but it is an ecological concern in many countries.

A tranquilizer adapted to active life” was the slogan associated with Seresta®. The illustration was intended to represent “a series of dynamical kinetic compositions”, to reflect the need for equilibrium, serenity and activity of the modern man…  Colorful green/blue geometric shapes.

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