Time to Onset of Response to Pitolisant for the Treatment of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness and Cataplexy in Patients With Narcolepsy: An Analysis of Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trials

CNS Drugs. 2021 Dec;35(12):1303-1315. doi: 10.1007/s40263-021-00866-1. Epub 2021 Nov 25.


Background: Pitolisant is approved in the USA and Europe for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness or cataplexy in adults with narcolepsy.

Objective: Analyses evaluated the time to onset of clinical response during treatment with pitolisant.

Methods: Data were obtained from two randomized, double-blind, 7-week or 8-week, placebo-controlled studies (HARMONY 1, HARMONY CTP). Study medication was individually titrated to a maximum dose of pitolisant 35.6 mg/day and then remained stable. Efficacy assessments included the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and weekly rate of cataplexy (calculated from patient diaries). Onset of clinical response was defined as the first timepoint at which there was statistical separation between pitolisant and placebo.

Results: The analysis included 61 patients in HARMONY 1 (pitolisant, n = 31; placebo, n = 30) and 105 patients in HARMONY CTP (pitolisant, n = 54; placebo, n = 51). Onset of clinical response began at week 2 (HARMONY 1) or week 3 (HARMONY CTP) for the mean change in Epworth Sleepiness Scale score, and week 2 (HARMONY CTP) or week 5 (HARMONY 1) for the mean change in weekly rate of cataplexy, with further improvements observed in pitolisant-treated patients through the end of treatment. The percentage of treatment responders was significantly greater with pitolisant vs placebo beginning at week 3 for excessive daytime sleepiness (defined as an Epworth Sleepiness Scale score reduction ≥ 3) and week 2 for cataplexy (defined as a ≥ 50% reduction in weekly rate of cataplexy [HARMONY CTP]).

Conclusions: Onset of clinical response for excessive daytime sleepiness and/or cataplexy was generally observed within the first 2-3 weeks of pitolisant treatment in patients with narcolepsy. CLINICALTRIALS.

Gov identifier: NCT01067222 (February 2010), NCT01800045 (February 2013).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cataplexy / drug therapy
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Narcolepsy / drug therapy*
  • Piperidines / administration & dosage
  • Piperidines / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Piperidines
  • pitolisant

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01067222
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01800045