The FDA has approved a new narcolepsy and cataplexy treatment for pediatric patients!
Xyrem is a drug used to control narcolepsy symptoms including cataplexy and excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). It received FDA approval in 2002 but only for adult patients. However, as of October 2018 children ages 7-17 can now receive this treatment. It could significantly improve the lives of pediatric narcolepsy patients.
What exactly is Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a condition which impedes the body’s ability to maintain proper sleep/wake cycles. It can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, uncontrollable periods of sleep, and general drowsiness. Some narcolepsy patients also experience cataplexy.
Cataplexy is a loss of muscle control which occurs after a patient experiences an intense emotion such as excitement or fear. It happens suddenly and can even be triggered by crying or laughter.
Xyrem is sodium oxybate. It is a type of depressant for the central nervous system. In narcolepsy patients, it can help treat cataplexy and EDS symptoms.
Xyrem isn’t a foolproof treatment. In fact, there are many side effects associated with its use. Some of the symptoms experienced in children taking xyrem include bed-wetting, nausea, and headache. Due to the risk of abuse or misuse, Xyrem has been made available only through risk evaluation mitigation strategy programs.
The approval of Xyrem means there’s a new treatment option on the market for children with a narcolepsy diagnosis. Until this point, most treatment options were only approved for adults with the condition. This could be life-changing for children living with narcolepsy and cataplexy.
You can read more about Xyrem and its approval here.