Clinical J&J’s Antidepressant Shows Promising Sleep Results in Trial

J&J’s Antidepressant Shows Promising Sleep Results in Trial


Johnson & Johnson developed seltorexant as an orexin-2 antagonist to prevent excessive receptor stimulation that leads to hyperarousal. The drug specifically targets a protein known as orexin-2, which has attracted interest as a potential treatment for narcolepsy. To sustain alertness, Takeda Pharmaceutical, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, and Alkermes are developing drugs that activate orexin-2.

As the industry saw a decline in investment over the last decade, Johnson & Johnson stood out as one of the few big pharmaceutical corporations that continued to be engaged in the field of neuropsychiatry. Even at this stage, when firms such as Bristol Myers Squibb and AbbVie are attempting to join the market via multibillion-dollar mergers, J&J has put a higher priority on its pipeline of brain medications.

Symptoms of depression can overlap with sleep disorders that lead to insomnia and increase the likelihood of a relapse into depression.

According to J&J, therapy with seltorexant led to improved sleep quality in addition to reducing symptoms of depression. The experiment conducted by the firm included participants who had previously been prescribed antidepressants of the SSRI or SNRI type but had not responded well to them, as well as those who had suffered major sleep problems.

Last year, officials predicted that Seltorexant might ultimately generate between $1 and $5 billion in yearly sales. This makes it one of the most appealing prospects for the company.

One of the study’s investigators, neurologist Andrew Krystal, stated, “In MDD (major depressive disorder), insomnia symptoms exacerbate the risk of depressive relapse, increase healthcare costs and impact quality of life, and it often goes under-treated despite being one of the most common residual symptoms.”

Krystal added that seltorexant could address a critical unmet need for new treatments for patients suffering from depression and insomnia, with the potential to improve outcomes and quality of life for these individuals.

During the course of the research, Johnson & Johnson said that its medication was “safe and well-tolerated,” pointing out that the incidence of common adverse events was comparable in both the seltorexant and placebo cohorts.

J&J has also placed large hopes on another new depression medication known as aticaprant, in addition to seltorexant. This year may see the release of findings from a Phase 3 research with that drug.

According to the National Institutes of Health, around 21 million people in the U.S. experienced at least one episode of MDD in 2021. MDD is one of the most prevalent chronic mental illnesses, defined by an ongoing sensation of despair.

The company calculated that over 60% of individuals who suffer from the illness have symptoms of sleeplessness. The disorder affects approximately 280 million people throughout the world.

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