The pharmacotherapeutic management of obstructive sleep apnea

Stefano Marra, Dario Arnaldi, Lino Nobili

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Introduction: Obstructive sleep apneas are a frequent clinical condition in which there are momentary interruptions or reductions in breathing activity. To date, the gold standard therapy is the use of Continous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). But, due to the relatevely high frequency of poor compliant patients, there is the need to research possible pharmacological treatments for obstructive apnea (OSA). Areas covered: A recent study divided OSA into four major phenotypes. With this characterization in hand, the authors have reviewed the pharmacological treatments present to date according to the different phenotypes in which they could be used. Afterwards, they analyzed the efficacy of different medicaments for the therapy of the residual (despite CPAP treatment) excessive day-time sleepiness (EDS) that often afflicts OSA’ patients. Expert opinion: Different drug classes have been evaluated, with some positive results. However, there is still the need to better define treatment strategies for every single phenotype. This underlines the importance to avoid considering the pathology like a single entity without any differences between each single form. The authors are concerned about the risk that, treating only EDS, patients could reduce their compliance to CPAP, thus not reducing the cardiovascular risk associated with OSA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1981-1991
Number of pages11
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2 2019


  • Apnea
  • drug
  • OSA
  • sleep
  • sleepiness
  • therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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