Sleep disorders, encompassing insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and restless leg syndrome (RLS), represent a growing area of pharmaceutical opportunity because they are characterized by considerable unmet need in both diagnosis and treatment. Various epidemiological sources estimate that the prevalence of insomnia is 20-35% of the adult population in the world's seven major pharmaceutical markets (United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and Japan). The prevalence of OSA may be as high as 4% of the adult male population and 2% of the female population. RLS affected an estimated 40 million people in these markets in 1998. Sleep Disorders is a new a multiclient study published by Decision Resources, Inc. that evaluates the commercial potential of emerging therapies to treat these conditions.

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Physicians regard the newer, nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics, including zolpidem (Searle's Ambien; Sanofi-Synthelabo's Stilnox), zopiclone (Aventis's Imovane; Chugai's Amban), and zaleplon (Wyeth-Ayerst's Sonata) as offering benefits over benzodiazepines in terms of reduced abuse potential, rebound insomnia, and hangover effect. Physicians believe that zaleplon's ultra-short duration of action confers an advantage over other available hypnotics in that it can be administered in a more flexible manner; however, in some patients zaleplon's mechanism of action is too short to sustain sleep throughout the night. Perhaps the most promising agents in development for insomnia are melatonin receptor agonists (such as Servier's agomelatine [S20098]), which physicians anticipate will enable effective pharmacological treatment of circadian rhythm disorders.

There are currently no pharmacological agents available to treat OSA; the gold-standard treatment is nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). We review the only drug in development for OSA, Sanofi-Synthelabo's 5-HT2 antagonist, SR-46349 (eplivanserin). Modafinil (Cephalon's Provigil), which is being evaluated for excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) associated with OSA, is also discussed.

Sleep Disorders is part of Mosaic, one of six Pharmacor services that evaluate the commercial potential of drugs in research and development.

Contact: Frank Sama, 781.487.3753 (telephone), 781.487.5750 (fax), or sama@dresources.com (e-mail). In Europe, contact Ms. Francoise Bidart, +32.2.351.4082 (telephone), +32.2.351.2347 (fax), or fbidart@compuserve.com (e-mail). In Japan, contact Ms. Makiko Yoshimoto, +81.3.5401.2615 (telephone), +81.3.5401.2617 (fax), or makiko@bl.mmtr.or.jp (e-mail). http://www.dresources.com

Decision Resources, Inc., is a world leader in research publications, advisory services, and consulting designed to help clients shape strategy, allocate resources, and master their chosen markets. Founded as a subsidiary of Arthur D. Little, Inc., the company has provided strategic information services for 30 years, assessing industry trends in the international health care and pharmaceutical industries.

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SOURCE: Decision Resources, Inc.

Contact: Frank Sama of Decision Resources, Inc., 781-487-3753,
sama@dresources.com