U.S. FDA approves Merck insomnia drug

WASHINGTON Wed Aug 13, 2014 3:46pm EDT

WASHINGTON Aug 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday it has approved a new insomnia drug made by Merck & Co..

The drug, to be called Belsomra, is the first in a new class of sedatives that block chemicals in the brain called orexins that help keep people awake.

Belsomra, known generically as suvorexant, has the potential to cause next-day sleepiness and impaired driving.

The FDA approved the drug in four different strengths, with 20 milligrams being the maximum. (Reporting by Toni Clarke; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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