I posted about Belsomra (suvorexant), the newest sleeping pill to hit the market, a few months ago. At that time, it wasn’t available to buy yet. Now it is.
As I predicted, it’s expensive, although not quite as costly as I thought it might be. According to GoodRx, a 30-day supply of 10mg tablets in my area code will cost on average $275.
Generic Ambien—zolpidem—costs about $30.
Belsomra works differently in the brain than Ambien or Lunesta. Will it work better? Hard to know, since there have been no studies directly comparing the efficacy of Belsomra with the other … Continue reading
The high cost of insomnia
I read with some trepidation that the pharmaceutical giant Merck recently received FDA approval for a new sleeping pill, Belsomra (suvorexant). It will be available later this year or early in 2015.
2/20/15 Updated post: Belsomra – Use with caution
Great, I thought, what will another brain-altering drug cost us?
Financially, Belsomra is expected to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in its first year. That’s great for Merck, whose shares went up after the announcement. But not so great for the individuals, insurance companies and government agencies that will need to … Continue reading
The big business of sleep
As someone who has always had trouble sleeping, I find solace in the fact that I am far from alone. The last statistic I saw was that about 60 million Americans complain of some form of sleep trouble. And I suspect that number is under reported.
Sleep experts recommend we get 7-9 hours of sleep every night, and popular media are quick to point out all the ill health effects due to lack of sleep that will kill you.
It’s scary enough to give you nightmares—if you could get to sleep.
Insomnia and fatigue are … Continue reading
Another drug we can’t afford
A few weeks ago I posted about the recent slew of commercials to “increase public awareness” of the chronic sleep disorder Non-24.
As Non-24 (formerly known as circadian rhythm disorder) affects totally blind people and is rare otherwise, it wasn’t clear to me why we needed increased awareness until I realized a new drug was coming to market.
When I wrote that post, this new drug, Hetlioz (tasimelteon), was not yet available in pharmacies. I speculated that it would be costly, perhaps as much as $10 per tablet. If only!
A few days ago … Continue reading
Sleep cycle tracking apps
Have you ever been wrenched out of a deep sleep by your alarm clock? Or been in such a deep sleep that you slept right through the &#%!@ alarm?
When this happens to me, I wake up feeling groggy and sleep deprived, even if I slept “enough” hours the night before.
Other mornings when the alarm goes off I am full of energy, feeling well rested and loving life.
The difference is not necessarily how many hours I slept; it’s at what point in my sleep cycle—the light and deep stages of sleep—the alarm woke me.… Continue reading
The “sleep supplement”
I am a chronically poor sleeper, and I have tried melatonin, the sleep supplement, in the past. I have friends that swear by it, but it never worked for me.
Plus, I could never get a straight answer from any source about the therapeutic dosage – 1 mg, 3 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg? Should I only take it as needed, or is melatonin safe to take every night, forever?
As a supplement (it’s actually a hormone), melatonin falls under the extremely loose guidelines of the Dietary Supplement Health And Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. It … Continue reading
Light triggers chemicals in our brains that wake us up. That’s why it’s so much easier to rise and shine in the summer than in the winter.
But I used to dread the long summer days when light would sneak into my bedroom and wake me up before 5 am. I couldn’t find curtains or blinds for my bedroom window that adequately blocked the morning sun. Finally, I invested in some heavy, black-out drapes, the kind used in hotels. They aren’t very decorative, but they help me sleep longer in the morning.
Artificial light also disrupts our sleep. It mostly … Continue reading
As I was skimming through some of my favorite medical blogs the other day, I ran across a post by Dr. Synonymous, a family medicine doctor somewhere in middle America. His post referred to the time and place of his first “Didgeridoo Hullabaloo” session that he was offering for his patients that suffered from snoring and sleep apnea.
What is a didgeridoo? It’s a native Australian wind instrument, which can be up to 10 feet long! It works like a large kazoo, and produces a low, resonant sound something like an elephant.
And how does this help snoring? Snoring and … Continue reading
Have you ever heard of a company called ResMed? If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and have been prescribed a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, you probably have.
Or, if you follow the stock market, you might recognize ResMed as one of its rising stars. Rising because, according to its website, ResMed ‘s revenues and profits have grown every quarter since it was formed in 1989. In 2012, ResMed reported revenues of approximately $1.4 billion.
What is the secret to ResMed’s amazing success? Our country’s poor health.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the common condition in which … Continue reading
I shook my head in wonder last night when I read this article: FDA requires lower doses for Ambien, other sleep meds
Doses for women, at least, will be cut in half.
Different bodies metabolize drugs at different rates. Apparently, studies have shown that the morning level of zolpidem (Ambien) remains high enough in some patients, especially women, that their driving skills are impaired.
According to the article, “the FDA has received a number of reports of car accidents connected to zolpidem over the years.”
I couldn’t help but think of the recent news, and my recent post, about… Continue reading