Update on Novel Medications to Treat Narcolepsy


Purpose of Review

Narcolepsy is a chronic, disabling neurologic disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) and in up to 60% of patients, cataplexy. Currently, new treatments with varying mechanisms of action have recently been approved or are in clinical development. This review aims to summarize the progress to date on this information on these agents.

Recent Findings

Over the last decade, researchers have made great strides in understanding the biology of narcolepsy. The discovery of ORX deficiency in NT1 opened new therapeutic options oriented towards ORX-based therapies, especially nonpeptide ORX receptor agonists that are currently under development. These agents include novel oxybate formulations (once-nightly [FT218]; low sodium [JZP-258]), a selective norepinephrine-reuptake inhibitor (AXS-12), and a product combining modafinil and an astroglial connexin inhibitor (THN102).


Novel treatments in narcolepsy may provide further patient-oriented individualized treatment. Further developments could conceivably be used for development of further novel therapeutic options.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Correspondence to Kenneth Lee.

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Akpa, B., Lee, K. Update on Novel Medications to Treat Narcolepsy. Curr Sleep Medicine Rep 6, 189–197 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40675-020-00178-8

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  • Hypocretin, orexin
  • Narcolepsy
  • Hypersomnia
  • Cataplexy
  • Sodium oxybate