Sleep cycle control
New sleeping pill approved for insomnia
Merck & Co. has won federal approval for a new type of sleeping pill designed to help people with insomnia stay asleep. The tablet, Belsomra, works by temporarily blocking chemicals known as orexins that control the sleep cycle and can keep people awake at night. It's unclear whether the new drug is safer or more effective than older drugs because it was tested against a dummy pill, rather than other sleeping medications. The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug in four different doses for various degrees of insomnia.
New shot advised for older patients
A federal panel says older Americans should start getting a new vaccine against bacteria that cause pneumonia. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Wednesday to recommend a dose of the expensive new shot for people 65 and older. The panel said older adults should still get an older pneumococcal vaccine, too. The newer vaccine, Pfizer's Prevnar-13, was licensed in 2011 and costs about $135 per dose. It already is recommended for infants and people with certain medical conditions. One dose of an older vaccine, which targets a different lineup of bacteria, remained the standard for older adults. A Dutch study this year found Prevnar-13 prevented more pneumonia in the elderly.
Compiled from wire services and other sources.