We've all seen the TV commercial for Merck's insomnia drug Belsomra. It features cuddly "sleep" and "wake" critters that help explain how Belsomra works and is different from other insomnia drugs. (See the "Gallery of Drug Advertising Mascots" for my all-time favorite drug “mascots” - including the Belsomra "Sleep" critter - seen in direct-to consumer ads.)
According to a Huffington Post Highline story (here), "During the [Belsomra's] development, Merck had suggested that it could treat insomnia more effectively and produce fewer side effects than existing medications. In 2012, one Merck scientist described the science underlying Belsomra as a 'sea change'."
"Like the fuzzy animal commercial, the unbranded campaign for Belsomra told a compelling story about new developments in the field of sleep research. Older insomnia drugs try to induce sleep by making the brain more receptive to chemical signals that make people drowsy. Over the last two decades, scientists have developed an understanding of a separate set of chemical signals that make people alert. The WhySoAwake site gives a cartoonish version of this story, and a link on one page takes visitors to the Belsomra site, which explains that it is the only drug that acts to quiet the wake signals."
But there is one thing the ads don't tell us. More...