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Indiplon Close Behind
About a year behind Lunesta in the approval pipeline is indiplon, the yet-to-be-brand-named sleeping pill from Neurocrine Biosciences in partnership with drug giant Pfizer. Pfizer is a WebMD sponsor.
Indiplon is a short-acting sleeping pill -- but it's being developed in two formulations: One is meant for use at nearly any time of the night, to help a person get to sleep quickly; the other has both an immediate-release and delayed-release component, intended to last throughout the night.
"When you have a compound with just one peak, you get the majority of the sleep effect at the front end whether you need it or not," Scharf says. "[Indiplon] works both at front end -- falling asleep -- and later, to help people stay asleep. Then it wears off before they wake."
Two other sleeping pills are in late-stage clinical trials. They include TAK-375 from Takeda, a Japanese firm, and gaboxadol from the Danish firm H. Lundbeck in partnership with Merck. According to a report in TheStreet.com, TAK-375 may arrive in the U.S. in 2006, followed by gaboxadol in 2008.
"To the person who hasn't previously taken sleeping pills, the good news is the drugs are becoming more specific and more easily tailored to the individual patient's specific need," Roehrs says. "And the news for the patient who already is taking a drug, but has some undesired side effects or something that they might rather not experience, that individual could explore with their doctor some of these newer alternatives."