|Cataplexy is easily overlooked and frequently undiagnosed in patients with narcolepsy, according to Cathy Gendreau, senior product manager, Xyrem, at Orphan Medical, Minnetonka, Minn. Sleep Review spoke with Gendreau about how the company is helping to alter that trend through increased educational efforts and a new diagnostic tool.|
|How has the perception of narcolepsy changed since Orphan Medical entered the market?
Prior to Orphan’s entering the market, there was minimal marketing and/or medical education activity regarding narcolepsy and specifically cataplexy. Orphan has spent quite a bit of time educating physicians and office staff about the disease state. Narcolepsy affects one in 2,000 people in the United States, and that’s more than cystic fibrosis. The literature suggests that 60% to 90% of patients with narcolepsy have cataplexy. We’ve focused on educating physicians that narcolepsy is not only excessive daytime sleepiness, but also cataplexy, and it should be treated.Patients’ quality of life is so significantly impacted that it typically has profound effects on their socioeconomic circumstances. They have decreased performance at schools and workplaces. They have difficulties with interpersonal relationships and social interaction; increased incidence of accident, injury, and depression; and lower self-esteem. Due to the embarrassing symptoms of narcolepsy and the fact that cataplexy is triggered by emotions, people with narcolepsy tend to be socially isolated. Orphan has helped broaden the awareness of narcolepsy, specifically the symptom of cataplexy, to allow those underserved patients to empower themselves to get the appropriate treatment.
How has the restricted distribution of Orphan Medical’s cataplexy drug Xyrem affected the company?
Orphan Medical provided an unrestricted grant to develop the Cataplexy Assessment for Treatment to Augment Life—Your Standardized Toolkit (CATALYST). Of what importance is this diagnostic screener?