The narcolepsy drug, developed by Irish company Jazz Pharmaceuticals, has a lower salt content than the current treatment Xyrem, making it more suitable for patients at risk of cardiovascular disease.
In a 200-patient phase III trial that finished in July, Jazz Pharmaceutical’s experimental drug was able to reduce the number of cataplexy attacks and the sleepiness of narcolepsy patients as compared to a placebo.
Narcolepsy causes disrupted sleep cycles and excessive sleepiness during the day. Around 70% of patients also suffer from attacks of cataplexy, where they suddenly lose muscle tone in parts of the body. Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ small molecule drug Xyrem is approved to treat cataplexy and sleepiness in the condition. However, it is high in salt, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Jazz Pharmaceutical’s experimental drug is similar to Xyrem but contains only 8% of the salt.