Insomnia info: Rozerem is a sleeplessness treatment in its very own class

Long-term sufferers of insomnia who have not found lasting relief from such sleep aids as Ambien or Sonta should consider researching Rozerem, the only medication of its type approved in the treatment of sleeplessness.

Rozerem (ramelteon) is the first of a new class of insomnia drugs: melatonin receptor agonists. These are similar to the naturally-produced sleep hormone melatonin, which your body needs for healthy sleep cycles. Rozerem, manufactured by Takeda Industries North America, was approved by the FDA in July 2005 for the treatment of delayed-onset insomnia. It emerged against a backdrop of other classes of drugs to treat the condition and it has some important differences.

Insomnia was historically treated with barbiturates, which were extremely strong and frighteningly addictive. In the Sixties, the benzodiazepines appeared. These drugs (such as Halcion) helped treat insomnia with a much lower rate of serious side effects and addiction, but still had moderate side effects such as dizziness and a hangover effect. In the Nineties, there emerged a new class of non-benzodiazepine sleep aids, including Sonata and Lunesta, which have safely helped many people combat insomnia. Still, as they target several broad areas of the brain that are involved in sleep, they still have considerable side effects on memory and clarity.

In 2005, Rozerem was approved as a treatment for insomnia. It is said to have a different, more precise mechanism than other sleep aids, with an ability to target the “master clock” of the human body, affecting the sleep-wake cycle without unduly interfering with nearby brain functions.

Because it is in a different class than Lunesta and Ambien, Rozerem may be an effective treatment for patients who have not found lasting results on these medications. If you have not reconsidered your insomnia treatment since this important new class of drugs appeared in 2005, it is worth researching these new developments, as they may cure your insomnia more effectively, or do so with fewer side effects.

Side effects: Common side effects on this medication are dizziness, drowsiness, and daytime sleepiness. Sometimes people using this drug sleep-walk or perform other actions in their sleep. More serious side effects involve hormonal changes such as missed periods, nipple discharge, or difficulty becoming pregnant. It is important to tell your doctor immediately if you experience depressed or suicidal thoughts while taking this medication. Finally, be aware of any symptoms of a very serious allergic reaction to Rozerem such as a rash or swelling. Call your doctor immediately if this occurs.

Cautions and contra-indications: Rozerem is not suitable for patients with liver disease. You should not take it if you are also taking fluvoxamine, rifampin, or certain antifungal antibiotics. You should advise your doctor if you suffer from any breathing disorders such as sleep apnea or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. You should also tell your doctor if you have a history of mental illness, depression, or suicidal thinking. And of these factors might mean that you cannot take Rozerem, or that you might have an adjusted dose. Rozerem is a pregnancy category C drug, so it may be harmful to an unborn baby, or in breast milk. Finally, Rozerem may affect hormonal levels in men and women, with possible effects to the desire and fertility. Talk with your doctor about your reproductive plans if you are considering Rozerem.

As with any drug, please consult your doctor before taking.