Organon, the pharmaceutical unit of the Dutch group Akzo Nobel has reported promising data on a new sleep drug.

The firm said that it has moved Org 50081, a serotonin-2 blocker for the treatment of insomnia, into Phase III clinical development and

Willem de Laat, executive vice president for medical affairs at Organon said the compound showed positive and robust results on "multiple sleep parameters such as total sleep time and wakefulness after sleep onset."

He went on to claim that the serotonin-2 blockade of Org 50081 "is unique for an insomnia drug" as the others work by interacting with the GABA receptors and thus have a potential risk for dependency. Org 50081's action is on the serotonergic and histaminergic systems and appears to be a treatment without addictive properties. Org 50081 is also in Phase III trials for menopausal symptoms.

Some good clinical news is very welcome at Organon at the moment, especially after it was hit so hard last month when Pfizer pulled out of the firms' collaboration on a new schizophrenia drug asenapine which was seen as a vital part of the planned flotation of Organon by Akzo.

Analysts expect the drug to bring in around $1 billion euros if approved but the insomnia market is a tough one and it would be competing against the likes of Takeda's Rozerem (ramelteon), Sanofi-Aventis' Ambien (zolpidem) and Sepracor's Lunesta (eszopiclone).