Sleep Disorder Drug Gets Nod

Keeps users awake

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TUESDAY, Jan. 27, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the drug Provigil to help people with certain sleep disorders stay awake, according to its manufacturer, Cephalon Inc.

The new approvals are for people with shift work sleep disorder or obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS). In the latter, sleep disruption is most commonly caused by airway obstruction -- usually attributable to the collapse of the soft tissue in the back of the throat during sleep. Some 12 million Americans have the disorder, whose symptoms include loud, heavy snoring; restless sleep; and falling asleep during the day. Men are twice as prone to OSAHS as women, Cephalon says in a prepared statement.

Shift work sleep disorder, common among people who work rotating night shifts, affects some 6 million Americans. It's characterized by extreme sleepiness, insomnia, headaches, and difficulty concentrating.

Provigil, first approved in 1998 as a treatment for narcolepsy, is believed to work through the body's sleep and wake centers to activate the brain's cortex. An active cortex is essential for wakefulness, Cephalon says.

To learn more about sleep disorders, visit the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.

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