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WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — A study of an experimental drug for insomnia indicated that patients who stop taking it continue having sleeping problems, according to results of a clinical trial announced Monday.
Merck released data from a phase-3 trial of suvorexant in which patients who had been taking the drug daily for a year were switched to placebo for a two-month "discontinuation phase." Patients who were switched from the drug to placebo showed sleeping difficulties similar to those who had consistently taken placebo.
"The methods used in this study allowed us to understand what happens when patients who had been taking suvorexant every night for a year were immediately switched to placebo, because what happens when patients stop taking a sleep medication is a key concern for both patients and healthcare professionals," St. Luke's Hospital Sleep Medicine and Research Center executive director and senior scientist James Walsh said. "We found that the patients who had been taking suvorexant for 12 months and were switched to placebo saw their insomnia return, but clinically meaningful withdrawal symptoms and rebound insomnia did not emerge."