The European Commission (EC) has granted marketing authorisation for a new drug called Quvivq, which is manufactured by Idorsia. The Pharma Times reports that the drug is a new advancement for the treatment of chronic insomnia disorder in adults.

The drug is thought to be the first of its kind in Europe which directly blocks the activation of the orexin receptors, known as a ‘dual orexin receptor antagonist.’ This is considered superior to other treatments, which inhibit brain activity more generally, and cause unwanted side effects the next day.

Orexin is a type of neuropeptide produced by the brain, which scientists believe is responsible for preventing insomnia sufferers from feeling sleepy. By blocking the activation of the receptors, the drug allows the patient to follow a more natural sleep cycle, so they will feel more refreshed the next day.

Professor Damien Léger, Université Paris Cité, France, commented: “Sleep is an essential pillar for good physical and mental health to ensure optimal functioning throughout the day.”

He added: “Chronic insomnia disorder is persistent in many patients and has direct consequences, such as impaired daytime function, decreased workplace productivity, injuries and accidents, making insomnia not only a disease of the night, but one that also markedly affects the day and a patient’s well-being.”

The drug is deemed safe for long-term use, with no addictive properties. Most insomnia treatments approved for current use in Europe have side effects, which patients find can be just as debilitating as having an inadequate night’s sleep.

Poor sleep affects mood and concentration levels, and can increase the risk of accidents, causing health and safety issues in the workplace, on the roads, and in the home. Insomnia is thought to affect as many as one in three people in the UK. Symptoms include difficulty falling or staying asleep, waking too early, and feeling tired and irritable the next day.

The cause of insomnia can be unclear, but it is often linked to lifestyle factors, poor general health, and stress and anxiety. It can also be a side effect of other medications, such as steroids, antidepressants, and epilepsy treatments. A bedroom that is too noisy, too hot, too cold, or too light, or an uncomfortable mattress, can also cause sleep problems.

Medication is usually recommended as a last resort of action, should all other methods of tackling the insomnia fail to work. The NHS advises that sufferers should establish a regular bedtime routine, always going to bed and getting up at the same time.

The well-known advice of avoiding caffeine, and other stimulants such as nicotine and alcohol, a few hours before bed should also be followed. Heavy meals and rigorous exercise should also be avoided in the later part of the evening.

Improving the sleep environment, such as adding blackout curtains or blinds, and making sure the room is neither too warm nor too chilly, can also help. If soundproofing is a problem, using earplugs may help. It is also recommended to avoid using electronic devices, such as phones, TVs, and laptops, in the bedroom.

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