The latest insomnia medications: Mat's old is new

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

People have tried ingesting so many different substances in the desperate attempt to sleep. The use of alcoholic beverages and opium-based concoctions go back millennia. Chloral hydrate and barbiturates have been around for over 100 years. Several effective sedating medications appeared during the last century, but disappeared due to abuse and other serious safety problems. In recent decades, the primary Food and Drug Administration-approved medications recommended for the treatment of insomnia have been the benzodiazepine receptor agonist (BZRA) hypnotics, including the original benzodiazepines (eg, flurazepam, temazepam, and triazolam), and the subsequent nonbenzodiazepines (eg, eszopiclone, zaleplon, and zolpidem). The first new mechanism-of-action insomnia medication approved by the FDA for decades was the selective melatonin receptor agonist, ramelteon, which became available ~5 years ago. All of the FDA-approved insomnia medications had been immediate-release capsules or tablets that were shown to benefit sleep onset and, depending on the pharmacokinetics, possibly sleep maintenance. Until recently, the only exception was the 2005 approval of an extended-release tablet formulation of zolpidem. In addition to the medications specifically approved by the FDA for the treatment of insomnia, physicians have prescribed an assortment of sedating medications to promote sleep in insomnia patients. Mostly these have been antidepressants and antipsychotics. People also have taken prescription-strength or over-the-counter doses of antihistamines, mostly diphenhydramine, as sleep aids or for the treatment of insomnia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-30
Number of pages3
JournalPrimary Psychiatry
Volume17
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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