A New Pain Pill, and Do Sleeping Pills Cause Alzheimer’s?
We discuss two new drugs entering the market, and a possible link between sleeping pills and Alzheimer’s
Targiniq, a Painkiller
This summer, the FDA approved a hard-to-abuse painkiller called Targiniq ER, manufactured by Perdue Pharma. It’s for people who haven’t responded to other painkillers.Interesting that, according to US News, it supposedly “discourages potential abusers from snorting or injecting the drug.” Thus, it’s supposed to be less dangerous than those on the market now.
The pill contains oxycodone and naloxone, which means that, because of the effects of naloxone, an opioid antagonist, if someone tries to snort it, smoke it, or inject it, crush it or dissolve it, they won’t feel the effects of the oxycodone. (It reduces opioid-induced euphoria, according to Wikipedia.) Thus it’s has a deterrent for people who want to snort it or inject it, but the FDA acknowledges that people can still abuse the drug by taking too many pills.
It’s been available in Germany since 2006 and in some other European countries since 2009 as well, according to Wikepedia.
Is this combination a way to curb drug abuse? Some experts say no, implying that people will just keep on looking. But it may help people who need pain relief and aren’t just looking to get high and who aren’t getting help from other medications.
Belsomra, a sleep drug
In 2011 I wrote about people who become addicted to sleeping pills, and the odd behavior the pills can cause. In August, the FDA approved Belsomra, made by Merck, for people who have difficulty falling and staying asleep.
That’s what I thought Lunesta did. Here’s what WebMD says about this medication: This medication is used to treat sleep problems (insomnia). It may help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and lessen how often you wake up during the night, so you can get a better night’s sleep.
The new medication has been approved in four different strengths. I assume, from the following paragraph in the press release, that the formulation and the way it works is somewhat different from Lunesta.
Belsomra is an orexin receptor antagonist and is the first approved drug of this type. Orexins are chemicals that are involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle and play a role in keeping people awake. Belsomra alters the signaling (action) of orexin in the brain.
But besides putting you to sleep, Belsomra also results in drowsiness and impaired driving performance.
The question is, do we need another sleeping pill? As someone who occasionally has trouble falling asleep, it doesn’t bother me to have another one available. But I’m not worried about me becoming addicted, I’m thinking about others doing so. And I suppose I’m in denial, because who’s to say who will cross the line into dependence at some point?
Sleeping Pills and Alzheimer’s
Well, here’s some news that might dampen your enthusiasm about having another sleeping pill available: The UK Telegraph reports that people who take sleeping pills (or anxiety medication) for three months or more have a 50 percent greater chance of getting Alzheimer’s five years later. The researchers who did the study said they can’t prove this is true, but they have a strong suspicion.
The article notes that this is important because so many older people take these medications. But one of the problems with the study, according to the researchers, is that a number of people taking the drugs are in the early stages of the disease, which muddies the waters. As with so many early findings, more study is needed.