Sleep Awareness Month is an opportunity to educate ourselves and others about how sleep disorders can disrupt the daily lives of people living with these conditions. Each year, I think about the conversations I’ve had with patients, families and advocacy groups, reflecting on the progress we’ve made, the challenges patients still face and the opportunities we have to support this community in innovative ways.
This month also marks a very different milestone: one year since people in the U.S. started to shelter in place due to a global health crisis that continues taking its toll on patients worldwide. While navigating the COVID-19 pandemic may have emphasized the connection between sleep, health and stress management, it also reminds us that people with sleep disorders—such as idiopathic hypersomnia, narcolepsy and obstructive sleep apnea—face many unmet needs and new barriers to care. Against this backdrop, the treatments coming to market and efforts to increase diagnosis rates represent hope for the future and an ongoing commitment to the sleep community.
While it may be possible for most people to improve or adjust their sleep habits proactively, people with chronic sleep disorders depend on innovative therapies to address their needs and manage their symptoms more effectively. Studies have shown that it can sometimes take up to 10 years for these patients to receive a proper diagnosis,1,2 making it that much harder to begin their treatment journey and get the care they need. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the issue, further slowing the rates of diagnosis and impeding effective care.
For more than 15 years, Jazz Pharmaceuticals has been at the forefront of sleep medicine, working to advance our understanding of sleep disorders and how they can impact every facet of a patient’s life. In addition, we continually partner with advocacy groups to understand where unmet needs and challenges remain for patients. Recent regulatory milestones have expanded treatment options for excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy in people living with narcolepsy, and we are currently working to bring the first FDA-approved treatment option for idiopathic hypersomnia to patients.
As one of the first companies to continuously commit resources to sleep medicine, we recognize that we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to contribute to the future of sleep disorder treatments. We take this seriously because we understand the life-altering implications these conditions have and how urgently new options are needed. At the same time, we’re working to bring our medicines to more countries and patients around the world, collaborating with advocacy groups and supporting education that brings to life the challenges and needs of people living with sleep disorders.
While Sleep Awareness Month is a reminder of how far we’ve come, it’s also a moment to recommit to our purpose—innovating to transform the lives of the patients we serve today and those we hope to serve in the future. Follow along on Jazz’s Twitter and LinkedIn channels to learn more about how we’re supporting Sleep Awareness Month this year.
1Morrish E, King M, et al. Factors associated with a delay in the diagnosis of narcolepsy. Sleep Medicine. 2004;5(1):37-41.
2Thorpy M, Krieger A. Delayed diagnosis of narcolepsy: characterization and impact. Sleep Medicine. 2014;15(5):502–507
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