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DARIEN, IL – A potential new class of sleep medicines that target and block the chemical messengers in the brain that help keep people awake was presented today at SLEEP 2012 with new pivotal efficacy trials.

Suvorexant significantly reduced the time it took patients to fall asleep and increased the time that patients stayed asleep as early as the first night and at the three-month time point compared to placebo, according to Merck, the global healthcare company investigating suvorexant as a treatment for insomnia.

Suvorexant targets and blocks orexins, the chemical messengers that originate from the hypothalamus (an important sleep center in the brain) that help keep people awake. By blocking the actions of orexins, suvorexant helps to facilitate sleep. The Phase III efficacy trials for suvorexant is one of the longest continuously dosed, placebo-controlled trials of a sleep medication ever conducted.

Researchers said suvorexant targets insomnia in a way that is different from other medicines. They said the potential for a new and different option would be welcome by patients with insomnia who cannot sleep through the night.

A joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, the annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of more than 5,500 leading clinicians and scientists in the fields of sleep medicine and sleep research. At SLEEP 2012 (, more than 1,300 research abstract presentations will showcase new findings that contribute to the understanding of sleep and the effective diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

Follow @aasmorg on Twitter for live updates and use the official hashtag #SLEEP2012 to see what attendees are saying. “Like” the American Academy of Sleep Medicine on Facebook at for photos, videos and more.