(HealthDay News) – A new drug, the orexin receptor antagonist suvorexant, improves sleep in healthy adults with insomnia, according to a study published online Nov. 28 in Neurology.

W. Joseph Herring, MD, PhD, from Merck Sharp & Dohme in Whitehouse Station, NJ, and colleagues randomly assigned 254 healthy adults with primary insomnia to placebo or suvorexant (10mg, 20mg, 40mg, or 80mg) for two four-week periods as part of a crossover study.

The researchers found that the suvorexant group showed significant, dose-dependent improvements in sleep efficiency (the total sleep time per eight hour period in bed) on night one and at the end of Week Four. There were also dose-related improvements in sleep induction (latency to persistent sleep) and sleep maintenance (wake after sleep onset). The drug was generally well tolerated.

“The data suggest that orexin receptor antagonism offers a novel approach to treating insomnia,” Herring and colleagues conclude.

The study was supported by Merck Research Laboratories. Several authors disclosed financial ties to drug companies, including Merck, where all authors except one are employed.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)