Idorsia-backed survey finds sleeping troubles impacting relationships, antidepressants favored over new therapies

Insomnia drugmaker Idorsia has released a new batch of data from an Alliance for Sleep survey showing a lack of sleep can put serious pressure on people’s relationships.

In December 2021, just before Idorsia nabbed its first FDA drug approval in Quviviq for insomnia, the company helped set up the Alliance for Sleep, made up of a group of sleep hygiene experts that would use surveys and data to lift the lid on how insomnia can disrupt many aspects of people’s lives.

Now, the alliance and Idorsia are detailing the results of a new U.S. survey by pollster The Harris Poll, and they're enough to keep you up at night. The survey, conducted during late summer this year with just over 1,000 people who struggle to sleep and more than 300 healthcare professionals, found 53% of people with trouble sleeping report that their insomnia “is an added relationship stressor,” according to the data.  

Forty-one percent say their trouble sleeping causes them to argue more with their partner, while 35% argue at least once a month, again as a result of a lack of sleep. One survey participant, named as Chad S., sums his issues distinctly: “It’s like trying to fight through your day as opposed to enjoying the day,” he says, as quoted in the alliance’s report.

More worryingly for Quviviq's launch projection, the survey also found that antidepressants are the No. 1 medication used to treat insomnia, despite not being indicated for the sleep disorder.

Among those who have ever tried prescriptions to improve their insomnia, The Harris Poll found that 61% of people with trouble sleeping have tried antidepressants, while 45% of those currently taking antidepressants to treat their insomnia report taking them every day.

Half have tried benzodiazepines for their insomnia, which are a class of drugs indicated for anxiety. Though Idorsia does not make this point directly, the implication is clear that patients should be using FDA-approved medications for insomnia, such as Quviviq, and not antidepressants.

“These results demonstrate a clear need for more education among doctors and the general public,” a spokesperson for Idorsia said in an email to Fierce Pharma Marketing.

The Swiss biopharma, a spinout from pharma giant Johnson & Johnson’s buyout of Actelion, launched the new insomnia drug Quviviq earlier this year. Quviviq aced a phase 3 trial in insomnia patients, showing that the dual orexin receptor antagonist (DORA) not only helped them fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer but also reduced daytime sleepiness.

Idorsia is hoping that will set it apart from other DORA drugs including Eisai’s Dayvigo, which won FDA approval last year, and Merck’s more established Belsomra. The latter has been on the market for seven years but has failed to catch on with patients, bringing in just $327 million in 2020.

Idorsia has been throwing everything at its marketing juggernaut and has a star-studded lineup of A-list celebrities backing its campaigns, including former "Friends" actress Jennifer Aniston, original "Rent" cast member and TV actor Taye Diggs and skiing legend Lindsey Vonn.

The company also recently tapped Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer to narrate its unbranded documentary “The Quest for Sleep.''