Somaxon Pharmaceuticals

Somaxon Pharmaceuticals
Based: San Diego, CA
Founded: 2003
www.somaxon.com

Why It's Fierce: In just two years, Somaxon has pushed a lead compound into Phase III and has two others coming up the pipeline behind it. It's helped that Somaxon started with a compound (doxepin) that had been approved 35 years ago as an antidepressant. A psychiatrist -- Dr. Neil Kavey at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center -- noticed that patients taking small doses of doxepin were reporting that they were sleeping through the night. That discovery has helped make Somaxon a contender among the drug developers scrambling to develop new and better sleep drugs in what is projected to be a massive market. Their goal: Show that Silenor can maintain sleep through the night without any of the side effects common to the class. Having a compound with an already well-defined safety profile has made their task much simpler. And their racing form helped attract a whopping $65 million third round just days before starting a pivotal trial for Silenor. Two other pipeline candidates to watch: Oral nalmefene for pathological gambling and a new formulation of acamprosate, a GABA-A agonist and NMDA antagonist, that will increase the bioavailability of the drug. A key member of the development team is Philip Jochelson, M.D., an expert in insomnia drugs who had worked at Neurocrine.

What to look for: Look for a marketing partner to step in somewhere between preliminary Phase III data in the second quarter of next year and an NDA by the end of '06.

Somaxon Pharmaceuticals
Read more on

Suggested Articles

Karen DeSalvo's appointment is the latest in a string of hires that deepen the tech giant’s investment in and focus on healthcare.

Spring Bank’s hepatitis B drug, given in tandem with Gilead’s Vemlidy, tamped down on chronic disease in 23% of patients in a phase 2 study.

Verseau will use the money to start testing its macrophage checkpoint modulators in humans.