The sleep aid Lunesta was introduced to the US market in April 2005. The generic formula is called eszopiclone. Like Ambien, it is a non-benzodiazepine. Drugs of this class are prescribed primarily for insomnia.
Eszopiclone is manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Sepracor. According to researchers at the Department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Florida, all of the clinical trials were sponsored by Sepracor.
Because of that, some doctors question the accuracy of the results. They have also mentioned that trials comparing the effectiveness to other treatments, such as behavior modification therapy, should be conducted.
The research team at the University of Florida expressed regrets that studies concerning elderly patients had not been conducted. Insomnia is a common problem for the elderly. Drug treatment is not usually recommended for the treatment of insomnia in the elderly, because of the increased risk of falls and fractures.
Adults under the age of 69 were able to take the drug without experiencing negative side effects for up to 12 months, according to the Sepracor studies. It was also found to be safe for short-term treatment of two weeks or less.
As with other sleep aids, there is the risk of psychological and physical dependence with long term use. The Lunesta sleep aid is no more or less addictive than any of the others.
The new non-benzodiazepine drugs were introduced as safer alternatives to benzodiazepines like Valium. But, studies indicate that there is little difference between the two classes of drugs in terms of safety.
The drugs work by reducing brain activity. This is a sedating effect. There are some benefits of the non-benzodiazepines in that they do not relax the muscles as much as the benzodiazepines.
A recent study looked at the benefits of the sleep aid Lunesta for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The painful disease frequently interferes with sleeping. The 3 mg dose was found to improve sleep and daytime function in 25-64 year olds with RA that participated in the study. The study participants also reported a decrease in pain, which was surprising since one of the common side effects of Eszopiclone is pain.
Other common side effects of the sleep aid Lunesta include morning after headaches, bad taste in the mouth, dizziness, upset stomach and heartburn. Decreased libido and more painful menstruation are commonly reported, as well.
Less common side effects include swollen hands and feet, frequent urination, itching and rashes. These may be allergic reactions. The reason for them is unclear.
The Lunesta sleep aid sometimes causes psychiatric problems such as confusion, aggression, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts. There is an increased risk of depression among people that take the drug on a regular basis.
Most sources suggest that people suffering from depression should not take the drug, because it worsens the condition. However, a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology concluded that perimenopausal and postmenopausal women had reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety when taking the Lunesta sleep aid.
There appear to be many conflicting opinions among the scientific community concerning the use of these drugs. There is evidence that infections are more common among people who take them. Some studies indicate that cancers are more common in people taking the sedatives. However, it is unclear if the increased incidence of infections and caner is due to the drugs or due to long term insomnia.
Animal studies indicate that the drug protects brain cells from damage caused by sleep apnea. There may be benefits for people using continuous positive airway devices. Some psychiatric disorders may be benefited by the drug.
As with most drugs, there are risks and benefits associated with the sleep aid Lunesta. The benefits of a good night’s sleep may outweigh the risks.