By Victoria Stilwell
Merck & Co. (MRK) said it is on track to file a new drug application for its experimental insomnia medicine this year, making the drug one of six major filings planned for 2012 and 2013.
Data from a Phase 3 clinical trial showed Merck's insomnia drug suvorexant reduced the time it took patients to fall asleep and increased the time patients stayed asleep as early as the first night and at the three-month point compared with a placebo.
The drug met statistical significance on 15 out of 16 primary endpoints. The findings were to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.
Merck, like its rivals, has been cutting costs as part of an effort to soften the hit from increased generic competition. The company's top-selling allergy and asthma medication Singulair loses patent exclusivity in August and the ripple-effect from generic versions of rival Pfizer Inc.'s (PFE) cholesterol fighter Lipitor have contributed to a decline in sales of Merck's anticholesterol drug Vytorin.
Merck reported in April first-quarter earnings rose 67% as the drug maker's cost controls helped offset slower-than-expected sales growth.
Shares closed at $38.43 Tuesday and were inactive in premarket trade. The stock is up 8.8% in the past 12 months.
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