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Scientists Are Testing a Pill That Could Stop Snoring

Loud snoring is common, but could sometimes also be related to serious sleep disorders.
October 28, 2020, 10:46am
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Photo: Vladislav Muslakov, Unsplash

Suffering sleepless nights because of unbearable snoring? Many have been there. But a solution could soon be on the way, at least according to scientists who are developing a pill that could potentially reduce snoring.

Snoring Can Actually Kill You

Massachusetts-based clinical-stage pharmaceutical company Apnimed has been conducting trials of a pill named AD109 that aims to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which refers to the intermittent relaxing and blocking of airways during sleep.

OSA causes breathing difficulties during sleep, which leads to snoring. The pill, which is meant to be taken once daily, contains two medications that were found to have reduced snoring in those with OSA.

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In 2018, a separate team of researchers based in Boston conducted a study on 20 patients and found that each one experienced a reduction in snoring by at least 50 percent after taking the medications atomoxetine and oxybutynin.

Atomoxetine is widely used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), by increasing levels of the brain chemical norepinephrine. The Boston-based scientists believe that norepinephrine can help improve activity of the throat muscles when one is asleep. Oxybutynin, on the other hand, is usually used to treat overactive bladder but is now believed to also prevent a tongue muscle from moving and blocking the throat, which causes snoring. Phase one of Apnimed’s study found that R-oxybutynin was well-tolerated and that there were no adverse events related to the study drug.

“The drug is designed to be safe, effective, and convenient, addressing the key limitations of the current standard of care treatments,” Apnimed said in a statement.

Apnimed’s study is still in its early stages and experts say it is too soon to tell just how effective or safe the pill is, but the second phase of trials is set to begin in the fourth quarter of this year.

According to sleep and health site Sleep Foundation, around 2 to 9 percent of adults in the United States have OSA, but many cases go undiagnosed.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices are commonly used to treat OSA. A CPAP machine ensures a constant flow of air into one’s airways through tubing and a mask. For milder cases, lifestyle changes are typically recommended, such as exercising and avoiding smoking.