Discovering Relief: Exploring Sleep Apnea Medical Devices and Drug Therapies for Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep apnea (also known as sleep apnoea), is a sleep disorder characterized by interruptions in breathing during sleep. These interruptions in sleep, often caused by obstruction or reduced airflow, can result in reduced oxygen flow and last up to several minutes. Sleep apnea is often an underdiagnosed condition that can affect all age groups. According to a study, obesity and excess weight is the most common cause of sleep apnea in adults. Additionally, modern lifestyle-related risk factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity and psychological stress play a crucial role in the rapidly increasing prevalence of sleep apnea. As a result, researchers and sleep apnea companies have turned their attention to develop effective, safe and versatile treatment options.

Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can be broadly classified into three types: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea (CSA), and complex sleep apnea. In the subsequent sections we will be discussing these types in detail.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repetitive episodes of partial or complete blockage of the upper airway during sleep. This obstruction occurs when the soft tissues at the back of the throat relax excessively, leading to narrowing or collapse of the airway, hampering the flow of air into lungs. These episodes trigger the brain to partially wake up from sleep in order to restore normal breathing. The cycle of interrupted sleep can lead to daytime fatigue, drowsiness, and impaired cognitive function.

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA):

Central sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder characterized by a disruption in the brain’s signaling to the muscles that control breathing. This type of sleep apnea is usually linked to medical disorders, such as congestive heart failure, stroke, brainstem lesions and some specific drugs. Symptoms of CSA include frequent awakenings, daytime fatigue and shortness of breath upon waking.

Complex Sleep Apnea:

Complex sleep apnea, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, is a condition where an individual experiences characteristic of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. This syndrome often begins with the symptoms of OSA, in which the upper airway gets obstructed during sleep, however after treatment with CPAP machine and other obstructive sleep apnea medical devices, symptoms of central sleep apnea occurs when the central respiratory system attempts to regulate breathing more effectively. This emergence of CSA in the presence of OSA treatment characterizes the complex form of the disorder.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of sleep apnea involves overnight sleep studies such as polysomnography and home sleep apnea testing to evaluate breathing patterns, oxygen levels and other relevant factors. At present, the primary treatments for sleep apnea predominantly involve non-pharmacological approaches, such as lifestyle modifications, medical devices and surgical interventions. However, there are no pharmaceutical interventions specifically approved for the treatment of sleep apnea. There are different types of therapeutic devices available for sleep apnea treatment.

Types of Therapeutic Devices

The sleep apnea device manufacturers landscape features over 100 large, mid-sized and small companies, which claim to offer various types of sleep apnea medical devices, including continuous positive airway pressure machines (CPAP machine), bilevel positive airway pressure machines (BiPAP), auto-adjusting pressure machines (APAP), oral devices, implantable devices, contactless devices, adaptive servo ventilation, expiratory positive airway pressure devices, home sleep apnea test devices and polysomnography devices. Notably, the majority of the sleep apnea medical devices can be used in home care setting for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea, with an aim to enhance the overall experience of end user. It is interesting to note that around 50% of these sleep apnea device manufacturers are located in North America, followed by Europe. Within North America, US and Canada emerged as the hubs for sleep apnea device manufacturers.

Additionally, close to 25 industry and non-industry players developing / evaluating over 35 drug therapies for sleep apnea treatment. Notably, more than 40% of these developers (industry players) are located in North America. It is worth highlighting that, in June 2022, Apnimed received fast track designation from the USFDA for its novel oral pharmacologic combination for sleep apnea treatment. Further, in October 2022, Eli Lilly and Company received the fast-track designation for its single novel molecule tirzepatide for sleep apnea treatment.

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on the development of novel solutions for the diagnosis and treatment of this common clinical condition.

Current Challenges of Sleep Apnea Treatment

As a result, medical experts are extensively focusing on developing effective, safe and versatile sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment options. It is worth highlighting that Appscent Medical, an Israel based company, is developing an advanced artificial intelligence-based home care medical device for contactless detection and treatment of sleep apnea, which is expected to revolutionize the sleep apnea treatment in the coming years. Furthermore, amidst the recent initiatives undertaken to develop more convenient treatment options for this medical condition, sleep apnea nasal devices have emerged as one of the most suitable options, having demonstrated the capability to treat sleep apnea. Driven by the growing prevalence of sleep apnea, technological advancement and unmet need for pharmacological therapies, sleep apnea market is likely to witness considerable market growth during the forecast period.

Majority of the companies developing sleep apnea medical devices and drug therapies are headquartered in North America, followed by companies based in Europe. Currently, North America and Europe capture over 85% of the market share of the overall sleep apnea therapeutic devices market. In recent years, demand for sleep apnea medical devices in the North America region has witnessed a tremendous increase. However, in the coming years, owing to the rising demand for sleep apnea devices and anticipated drug approvals, Asia-Pacific region is likely to grow at a much faster rate as compared to other geographies.

Several recent developments have taken place in the field of sleep apnea market, some of which have been outlined below.

  • In June 2023, the US-based Inspire Medical Systems received an expanded FDA approval for its neurostimulation technology based medical device, an alternative of traditional CPAP machine for sleep apnea treatment. This expanded approval is expected to enable the company to offer its device to patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea.
  • In June 2023, Fisher Paykel signed a product / technology integration agreement with VGM & Associate, a US based hospital. Under the terms of the agreement, Fisher Paykel announced its plans to use myAirvo line of product to support VGM members.

Leading sleep apnea companies in sleep apnea market include Acurable, Advanced Brain Monitoring, Airway Management, Apnimed, Bayer, Belun Technology, Braebon Medical, Cadwell, Desitin Pharma, Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, Eli Lilly and Company, Fisher Paykel, Hunan VentMed Medical Technology, Incannex Healthcare, Löwenstein Medical, Natus Medical, Nox Medical, Oventus Medical, Philips, React Health, ResMed, SciSparc, Sibelmed, Somnetics International inc, SomnoMed, Sunrise, Topson Medical, Vyaire Medical, Wellue, Whole You and ZOLL Itamar.