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GSK, Actelion sign development deal for insomnia drug


PHILADELPHIA and LONDON GlaxoSmithKline and the biotech company Actelion have signed a deal to develop an insomnia remedy drug, according to the Wall Street Journal.

GSK will pay Actelion $147.6 million upfront and then as much as $3 billion if the drug, almorexant gets approved for three market uses and hits “exceptional” sales targets. GSK and Actelion will split the profit from the drug’s sales in such markets as the U.S. and Europe, the companies said.

Almorexant is a new kind of drug, one that temporarily reduces levels of the brain chemical orexin, which is thought to help keep people awake. Sleep experts say the drug needs further study but could offer some benefits over Sanofi-Aventis’ blockbuster sleeping pill, Ambien, including fewer side effects.

If all goes well for GSK, almorexant could make it to the U.S. market by 2011 and could lead to sales of over $1 billion for GSK.

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