Americans are taking more sleeping pills than ever before.
One in 10 Americans have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, and 42 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were filled last year, an increase of almost 60 percent over only five years.
More Than $300 Million
Drug companies spent over $300 million in 2005 to advertise sleep aids -- a more than four-fold increase over 2004. Sepracor, the manufacturers of Lunesta, advertised the most heavily, spending nearly $200 million all by themselves.
Sanofi-Aventis, the makers of Ambien, responded by doubling their ad spending for the previous year, to well over $100 million.
A Growing Market
Perhaps as a result, the market for "prescription sleep" drugs is growing:
- Over 213,000 doctors gave out a total of 3.3 million prescriptions for Lunesta last year
- Sanofi-Aventis is beginning to push doctors and patients away from Ambien, on which the patent is expiring, and over to "new and improved" Ambien CR
- Rozerem, produced by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, debuted in America last fall but has had a low profile so far
- Pfizer and Neurocrine Biosciences are negotiating with the FDA to introduce Indiplon by the summer
Experts worry that the drugs are being used without enough attention being paid to side effects, or the underlying conditions that may be causing sleeplessness in the first place.