The National Sleep Foundation reports:
A recent study conducted by Thomas Roth, PhD, a sleep researcher at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, James K. Walsh, PhD, executive director and senior scientist at the Sleep Medicine and Research Center at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis and fellow researchers investigated whether eszopiclone (Lunesta™) is effective for the long-term treatment of insomnia. Currently, the median duration of clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of sleeping pills is one week. While a few studies have tested hypnotic agents for longer, Roth, Walsh and fellow researchers sought to find out how eszopiclone would treat insomnia over a year’s time. The first six months of the trial followed standard trial procedures – double-blind, placebo-controlled and randomized. The second six months the study was conducted "open-label," meaning the drug would be tested under conditions where both researchers and patients knew they were being treated with eszopiclone.
The study of 471 participants ages 21-64 found that eszopiclone was effective and well-tolerated for the length of the study. Researchers saw improvements in both six-month phases of the study, and they argue that the open-label phase was a valuable tool to assess the effectiveness of a medication in a real-life (or clinical) setting. Nevertheless, they note that they did not study what effects discontinuation of the medication would have upon these participants after the one-year trial. While the results of this study indicate that there is the potential for medication to treat chronic insomnia, more research on all areas of treatment for insomnia is necessary. Per the National Institute of Health’s state-of-the-science’s findings, "a substantial public and private research effort is warranted, including developing research tools and conducting longitudinal studies of randomized clinical trials."
I'll comment further on Lunesta when the actual study is published.