Sleeping pill with ‘no hangover effect’ will be available for insomniacs to buy over the counter without a prescription
- Sleep-inducing drug melatonin is now available over the counter in Australia
- The natural hormone is released by the brain every night in response to darkness
- The pill is considered ‘safe for short-term use’ and has ‘no hangover effect’
Australians suffering from insomnia over 55 no longer have to look abroad to buy a sleeping aid without a prescription.
Melatonin can now be sold over the counter in Australian pharmacies, after it received approval from the national medicines regulatory agency last year.
The natural hormone is released by the brain every night in response to darkness, which helps induce and maintain sleep.
But leading pharmacist John Bell said people’s natural melatonin stores decline as they age and can lead to poorer sleep.
“Melatonin is considered safe for short-term use,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
Australians suffering from insomnia over 55 no longer have to look abroad to buy a sleep aid
“Unlike many sleep medications, people with melatonin are unlikely to become dependent, have a reduced response after repeated use (habituation) or experience a hangover effect.”
Deloitte Access Economics estimated in 2011 that the indirect costs of sleep disorders include $3.1 billion in lost productivity due to premature segregation of staff, death and absenteeism.
Looking for some extra shut-eye, Circadin, the brand of extended-release melatonin tablets, said some Australians have previously taken the supplement from abroad to avoid the need for a prescription.
As a former national president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Mr Bell indicated that purchasing unregulated melatonin products could compromise user safety.
“If the country of origin from which some Australians have bought melatonin products does not have the same regulatory excellence as Australia, there is no way to check that the products are safe, of high quality and doing what they are supposed to do,” he said.
The new over-the-counter availability is only a short-term treatment for people over 55 and must be checked by a pharmacist.
Melatonin can now be sold over the counter in Australian pharmacies