Narcolepsy is an orphan neurological disease and presents with sleep-wake, motoric, neuropsychiatric and metabolic symptoms. Narcolepsy with cataplexy is most commonly caused by an immune-mediated process including genetic and environmental factors, resulting in the selective loss of hypocretin-producing neurons. Narcolepsy has a major impact on workableness and quality of life. Areas covered: This review provides an overview of the temporal available treatment options for narcolepsy (type 1 and 2) in adults, including authorization status by regulatory agencies. First- and second-line options are discussed as well as combination therapies. In addition, treatment options for frequent coexisting co-morbidities and different phenotypes of narcolepsy are presented. Finally, this review considers potential future management strategies. Non-pharmacological approaches are important in the management of narcolepsy but will not be covered in this review. Expert opinion: Concise evaluation of symptoms and type of narcolepsy, coexisting co-morbidities and patients´ distinct needs is mandatory in order to identify a suitable, individual pharmacological treatment. First-line options include Modafinil/Armodafinil (for excessive daytime sleepiness, EDS), Sodium Oxybate (for EDS and/with cataplexy), Pitolisant (for EDS and cataplexy) and Venlafaxine (for cataplexy (off-label) and co-morbid depression). New symptomatic and causal treatment most probably will be completed by hypocretin-replacement and immune-modifying strategies.
Keywords: Narcolepsy; cataplexy; co-morbidities; excessive daytime sleepiness; hypocretin; management; pharmacological treatment.