Fibromyalgia Treatment: Ramelteon (Rozerem)
A new class of fibromyalgia medicine for the treatment of related fibro symptoms such as insomnia and restless leg syndrome (RLS) has recently undergone studies that confirm the effectiveness of Ramelteon (also known as Rozerem) in treating fibromyalgia symptoms. But what are the benefits of these new drugs for fibromyalgia and how do they differ from those prescribed in the past?
What is Ramelteon (Rozerem)?
Ramelteon, also known by its brand name Rozerem, represents a different class of new medicine for fibromyalgia symptoms. Ramelteon is a sedative drug that falls under the classification of central nervous system (CNS) depressants, or in other words, medicines that reduce the speed of central nervous system activity. Ramelteon can be used to treat sleep disorders that are associated with fibromyalgia symptoms such as restless leg syndrome (RLS) and other sleep disruptions.
How is Ramelteon Different?
Previous sleep medications that may have been prescribed for individuals with fibromyalgia syndrome are muscle relaxants and sedatives known as benzodiazepines. This class of fibromyalgia medicine works by binding to the brain's benzodiazepine receptors, but consequently leads to side effects such as impaired thinking, hangovers, and rebound insomnia. In addition, this type of fibromyalgia treatment is known to include withdrawal symptoms and dependency, making the medication addictive for fibromyalgia patients. For this reason, doctors have avoided prescribing this type of sleep medication to treat fibro.
In contrast to these benzodiazepines, ramelteon represents the first melatonin receptor agonist sleep drug that works by targeting completely different receptors in the brain. These are the MT1 receptor, which is believed to regulate sleepiness, and the MT2 receptor, which helps the body transition between day and night.
The Benefits of Ramelteon
A recent study conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, has found that in contrast to the traditional benzodiazepine group of sleep medications, ramelteon does not appear to produce a physical dependence, making it less likely for patients to abuse this medication. The study confirmed that ramelteon does not cause cognitive function impairment, hangovers or rebound insomnia, as is the case of other hypnotic drugs.
Ramelteon is used to promote the onset of sleep and can help individuals with fibromyalgia sleep throughout the night without the unpleasant and debilitating side effects associated with traditional sleep medications.
Ramelteon Treatment of Fibromyalgia
Ramelteon or Rozerem is currently available by prescription in the form of oral tablets. This fibromyalgia medicine should be taken on an empty stomach just before going to bed for the night. The effects of ramelteon begin to occur very soon after the tablets are administered.
A doctor will prescribe a different dose of ramelteon based on each particular case. While all sleep medications are generally recommended for short-term use only, a doctor may advise longer use of ramelteon if necessary.
While studies have shown ramelteon to be a safer type of sleep medicine, it does represent a class of new drugs for fibromyalgia which may include side effects that have not yet been identified. For this reason, it is important to contact your doctor or health care provider if you experience any strange symptoms such as:
- increased depression
- hallucinations including seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are non-existent
- suicidal thoughts
- unusual excitement
The most common ramelteon side effects experienced by individuals taking ramelteon are dizziness, sleepiness, and unusual drowsiness. It is important to be aware of your body's response to this medication before engaging in certain activities such as driving or using machinery.
Ramelteon may interact with other medications and drugs such as Fluvoxamine, alcohol, and tobacco. Speak to your doctor about other potential side effects and drug interactions associated with ramelteon that may be relevant to fibromyalgia patients. Certain medical complications may also make the use of ramelteon inappropriate for some individuals.