Rozerem: Pros and Cons of the Newest Prescription Sleep Aid

Your doctor may suggest Rozerem if your sleep-wake cycle seems out of whack.
In 2005 the FDA approved Rozerem (generic name ramelteon), a prescription sleep aid different from any existing drug on the market. While hypnotic medications work to slow down the central nervous system, Rozerem instead mimics melatonin, a chemical that helps regulate the body's natural sleep-wake cycle. Because of its unique mechanism, this drug has its own set of pros and cons to consider.

Because clinical studies of Rozerem have found little evidence for abuse and tolerance (it was tested in patients with a history of drug abuse), it's the only prescription sleep medication not classified as a controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. This means it's easier for doctors to prescribe long-term than other prescription sleep aids.

The idea may be encouraging, but in reality all sleep aids have very little abuse risk for most patients. Rozerem also costs more than older benzodiazepine medications, since it is not yet available as a generic.

The scientists behind Rozerem's development explain that by targeting melatonin receptors—which are responsible for the brain's sleep-wake cycle—it may avoid the groggy side effects of sedative drugs, which work by slowing down the central nervous system. A company representative has compared taking Rozerem to shutting down a computer the right way, whereas using other medications is like pulling the plug so that the reboot process takes longer.

12 Next
Last Updated: May 07, 2008

De–stress your life, sleep better, and conquer depression with the latest news and insights on mood management, plus special offers.

More Ways to Connect with Health