Challenges of bringing a new sedative to market!

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The current review examines the success and failures of the development of new hypnotic compounds for the human market. One of the important aspects is that one of the key present agents, propofol, is considered by many anaesthesiologists as ‘the ideal’. However, all drugs have adverse or side-effects.

Recent findings

The last 30 years since the introduction of propofol has seen many new compounds evaluated; but as at the present time, only three agents may achieve a pivotal position in the market – fospropofol (a sedative agent which may have a role in endoscopic surgery); remimazolam (a short-acting benzodiazepine) whose development is also being focused on the sedation rather than anaesthesia market; and the pregnane steroid, alfaxalone (an anaesthetic agent first introduced in 1972, but withdrawn in 1984 because of adverse allergic reactions to the solvent, Cremophor EL) now solvented in a cyclodextrin.

Summary

Studies of these three agents thus far have shown that none of them has any major adverse side-effects; all have properties which warrant further clinical evaluation.

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