Sunday, September 11, 2011


This is mainly written as a resource for parents in New Zealand looking to start Melatonin in their child.

Our super brainy oncologist Paed (honestly, I'm not sure how we got blessed with him, but sometimes prayers get answered) often uses a drug called Nausicalm (Cyclizin HCl) in his cancer patients to stop vomiting nausea, however, it can also be given to children ages 6 to 12 in 1/2 tablet doses as a sedative. However, sedation with this is generally restricted to acute cases of distress, or, when the shit hits the fan and your paed is away. This is what the GP prescribed. I found it generally only effective on an empty stomach and that the full adult dose was needed (50mg) to stop the intensity of night time anguish.

It was suggested we look into getting Melatonin for Soph as it is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring hormone in the brain. It's something you can easily buy in the US for under $10 a bottle.

However, in NZ, it is restricted. You need to get a script. I'm not sure if it must come from a specialist, but my pharmacist said that most GPs would be equipped to write the script, so I assume it is not specialist only.

30 tablets cost $18.90 for 1mg. However, most people need more than 1mg, with children reaching accumulated doses of 10 to 12mg per night. So, if you can get the script from a hospital physician, this will reduce the cost as you do not pay for the Rx.

I'm unsure whether you can ask for repeats in the script so you do not have to go back to your doctor monthly.

On the first night, 1mg made Soph super drowsy for about 3 hours before she fell asleep. Last night she was up until 10:30pm, as it had no effect.

You can see this becomes a rather expensive venture when one considers that a dose of 5mg a night will last 6 days. You would be spending $56.70 a fortnight to sustain that dose.

My script tells me to increase dose to 2mg in one week should the initial dose fail to sustain a sedative effect.

I suppose one might apply for a child disability payment for the medicine as it is not covered by Pharmac and most likely will not be refunded from Southern Cross.

You can also try for a natural occurring source of melatonin, the tart cherry. Grown and made in the South Island, you pump 3 squirts of the cherry vite into a glass and take it at night. I have not had much success with getting Soph to take it, however, it might be worth a try for those trying a lower doses tablet and want to avoid the extra expensive of doubling or tripling a dose of tablet melatonin.

You can also get capsules if your child can swallow gel caps. However, it too is not cheap and it seems almost irresponsible for the govt to not provide children with autism or ADD/ADHD disorders with a relatively side effect free drug in favour of supplementing chemical drugs they've bought cheaply in bulk.


Alvaro said...

This melatonin posting, completely useful..

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