Sleep disorders include a variety of complications related to sleep and have a high prevalence across the globe. Based on these complications, sleep disorders can be classified into three categories- lack of sleep which includes insomnia, excessive sleep which includes narcolepsy and disturbed sleep which include sleep apnea and Rapid eye movement (REM) disorder. Insomnia may arise as result of unhealthy diet, emotional dreams, stress, and many other factors. Insomnia may affect reaction time towards common stimulus, hand-eye coordination, memory, and disturb daily life.
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Narcolepsy is a disorder that causes uncontrolled sleep at time period lasting less than minute or more than an hour. It has also been found that patients with narcolepsy experience sleep attacks more often during pregnancy, stress or ill health. Usually narcolepsy is a genetic disease, but it has also been found to develop as a result of some neurological disorders or severe brain damage. REM sleep behavior disorder involves abnormal behavior in sleep. In this disorder, a patient dreaming about running, may run while still asleep. Sleep apnea is obstructed breathing during sleep.
According to a press release in March 2014 by World Association of Sleep Medicine, 45% of the global population suffers from some form of sleep disorder. It also mentions that approximately 25% male and 10% females in the U.S. suffer from sleep apnea. This high prevalence suggests an opportunity for a large therapeutics market.
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Currently marketed drugs include Sanofi-Aventis manufactured Ambien (zolpidem), Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s Lunesta (eszopiclone), Takeda Pharmaceutical’s Rozerem (ramelteon), Somaxon Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s Silenor (doxepine) and various others. Over-the-counter drugs are also available for treating sleep disorder; these include Nytol, Sominex, Compoz, and Unisom. Merck’s Suvorexant drug is an orexin receptor agonist which is under Phase III trial. Other companies involved in the drug development of sleep disorder include Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline and Neurim Pharmaceuticals.