Merck highlights sleep drug ahead of FDA submission

Merck has touted the performance of one of its late-stage contenders as the drug giant ($MRK) readies an application for U.S. approval of the experimental insomnia drug. Suvorexant, Merck's orexin receptor antagonist, stayed effective for a year in a late-stage study, Reuters reported. And the company still plans to file for approval of the drug this year.

The drug is one of 5 new medicines that Whitehouse Station, NJ-based Merck plans to submit for approval this year and next year. With suvorexant, Merck is entering an already busy market for insomnia drugs. Merck has been pushing the fact that the drug offers a novel mechanism of action for combating sleeplessness, and Reuters reports that next week the company plans to present late-stage data on the candidate.

Later this year, Merck starts facing generic competition to its blockbuster asthma med Singulair, and analysts have been concerned about the prospects of the company's "Fab 5" experimental programs providing ample lift to the its drug business. Besides suvorexant, those noted drugs include the anesthesia-reversing treatment Bridion, the HPV vaccine V503, the osteoporosis med odanacatib and the closely watch "good" cholesterol-boosting drug Tredaptive.

- see Reuters' article

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