Two categories of prescription drugs are growing faster than most others in this second quarter of 2009: anti-depressants and sleep aids, according to IMS Health.

Can you spell “R-E-C-E-S-S-I-O-N?”
Sleeplessness is up in 2009, and people are kept up with anxiety about the economy along with other factors driving the prescription drug market for sleep.
The cost of insomnia is $42 billion annually in the U.S. The numbers on sleeplessness are epidemic: some 70 million Americans have some sort of insomnia.

About 1 in 3 American adults use some form of sleep aid at least a few nights a week, to the 2009 Sleep in America Poll from the National Sleep Foundation. Sleep aids including relaxation techniques (15%), prescription meds (8%), alcohol/beer/wine (7%), OTCs (7%), and alternative therapies such as Valerian and Melatonin.

According to Meir Kryger, MD, Director of Research and Education at Gaylord Sleep Services, insomniacs can suffer worse from chronic conditions. “Sleep disorders are often associated with other chronic diseases, like diabetes and hypertension, and they can add complexity and even accelerate each other if untreated.”
Sanofi-aventis held the patent on zolpidem, brand name Ambien, until April 23, 2007, when the FDA approved 13 generic versions of zolpidem tartrate.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: According to Meir Kryger, MD, a sleep guru at Gaylord Sleep Services in New Haven, lack of sleep is a risk factor for chronic disease. “Sleep disorders are often associated with other chronic diseases, like diabetes and hypertension, and they can add complexity and even accelerate each other if untreated,” Dr. Kryger told the National Sleep Foundation.
Chronic insomnia is bad for the economy. Insomniacs miss over 3 days more work each year compared to people who sleep well. Insomnia costs employers 4.4 days of wages per untreated individuals over six months — in addition to the direct costs of treating insomnia, and the indirect costs such as lost productivity.


Compared to those who sleep better, people who don’t get enough sleep are less likely to exercise, engage in leisure activities, eat healthy, and have sex. The sleepless are also more likely to be not completely satisfied in their relationships.

The health risk factors of insomnia are a substantial, growing — and often invisible — part of the US health economy.

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