Idorsia’s novel treatment for chronic insomnia wins the prestigious Prix Galien Suisse 2024 innovation award in the ‘Primary & Speciality’ category

  • Idorsia’s dual orexin receptor antagonist, a drug working by a new mechanism of action for the treatment of chronic insomnia, has been awarded the prestigious Prix Galien Suisse 2024 innovation prize in the category ‘Primary & Speciality’.
  • Each year, the Prix Galien Suisse honors the most innovative new medicines and diagnostics on the Swiss market.

Allschwil, Switzerland – June 21, 2024
Idorsia Ltd (SIX: IDIA) announced today that its novel treatment for chronic insomnia has been awarded the prestigious Prix Galien Suisse 2024 innovation prize in the ‘Primary & Speciality’ category. The Prix Galien Suisse is awarded annually to the most innovative new medicines and diagnostics on the Swiss market, as judged by a jury of renowned Swiss scientists.

Alice Huisman, General Manager of Idorsia Switzerland and Austria, commented:
"We are very proud to have been awarded the prestigious Prix Galien. The recognition from the jury is a wonderful endorsement of Idorsia's commitment to innovation in Swiss healthcare and the value that the new treatment brings to improving Swiss patient care for chronic insomnia. My team is working to make this medicine accessible to all Swiss patients.”

Martine Clozel, MD and Chief Scientific Officer added: "I am delighted that our innovative research in Switzerland has been recognized with the Prix Galien Suisse 2024. Our research team began working on the science of orexin and orexin receptors immediately after they were first described in 1998. Our initial work led to the understanding that antagonism of the orexin system was the key to increasing sleep while preserving a natural sleep architecture in patients with insomnia. The team set the target to design a dual orexin receptor antagonist that achieved a rapid onset of effect and a duration of action sufficient to cover the totality of the night – with minimal next-morning residual effect – at optimally effective doses. This task proved to be very challenging, and we had to synthesize and characterize more than 25,000 compounds to arrive to the innovative compound now recognized with the Prix Galien Suisse.”

Notes to the editor

About insomnia disorders
Insomnia disorder is defined as difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, causing clinically significant distress or impairment in important areas of daytime functioning. This impact on sleep quantity or quality should be present for at least three nights per week, over the period of at least three months, and occurs despite an adequate opportunity to sleep.1

Insomnia is a state of overactive wake signals and studies have shown that in patients with insomnia, brain regions associated with wakefulness remain more active during sleep.2,3 Chronic insomnia is a common problem with an estimated prevalence in Switzerland of 9.2% of the working-age population.4

Insomnia as a disorder is distinctly different from a short period of poor sleep and it can affect both physical and mental health.1,5 It is a persistent condition that has a negative impact on daytime performance.1 Idorsia's research has shown that poor sleep quality can affect many aspects of daily life, including the ability to concentrate, mood and energy levels.

The goal of treating insomnia is to improve sleep quality and quantity, as well as daytime performance, while avoiding side and after-effects the next morning. The currently recommended treatment for insomnia includes sleep hygiene, cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy.4

About the orexin system
Wake and sleep signaling is regulated by intricate neural circuitry in the brain. One key component of this process is the orexin system, which helps promote wakefulness.6,7 There are two forms of orexin neuropeptides – small protein-like molecules used by nerve cells (neurons) to communicate with each other in the brain – orexin A and orexin B.6,8 Orexin promotes wakefulness through its receptors OX1R and OX2R. 6,8 Together, these neuropeptides and receptors make up the orexin system. The orexin system stimulates targeted neurons in the wake system – leading to the release of several chemicals (serotonin, histamine, acetylcholine, norepinephrine) – to promote wakefulness.9 Under normal circumstances, orexin levels rise throughout the day as wakefulness is promoted and then fall at night.10 Overactivity of the wake system is an important driver of insomnia.7

The Idorsia research team has been studying the science of orexin and orexin receptors since they were first described in 1998. The team's initial work led to the conclusion that antagonism of the orexin system is key to maintaining natural sleep architecture in patients with insomnia. With this goal in mind, the team developed dual antagonists with the aim of a rapid onset of action and a duration of action sufficient to bridge the night but short enough to minimize any negative residual activity the next morning at optimally effective doses.


  1. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
  2. Buysse, D.J., et al. Drug Discov Today Dis Models. 2011;8(4):129-137.
  3. Levenson, J.C., et al. Chest. 2015;147(4):1179-1192.
  4. Hafner, Marco, et al., 2023. Santa Monica. CA: RAND Corporation.
  5. Wardle-Pinkston S., et al. Sleep Med Rev. 2019;48.
  6. Muehlan, C., et al. J Psychopharmacol. 2020;34(3):326-335.
  7. Boof, M.L., et al. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2019;75(2):195-205.
  8. Muehlan, C., et al. Expert Opin. Drug Metab. Toxicol. 2020;16(11):1063–1078.
  9. Clifford, B.S., et al. Trends Neurosci. 2001;24(12).726-31.
  10. Gotter, A.L., et al. BMC Neuroscience. 2013;14(1):14-19.

About Idorsia
Idorsia Ltd is reaching out for more – We have more ideas, we see more opportunities and we want to help more patients. In order to achieve this, we will develop Idorsia into a leading biopharmaceutical company, with a strong scientific core.

Headquartered near Basel, Switzerland – a European biotech-hub – Idorsia is specialized in the discovery, development and commercialization of small molecules to transform the horizon of therapeutic options. Idorsia has a 25-year heritage of drug discovery, a broad portfolio of innovative drugs in the pipeline, an experienced team of professionals covering all disciplines from bench to bedside, and commercial operations in Europe and North America – the ideal constellation for bringing innovative medicines to patients.

Idorsia was listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (ticker symbol: IDIA) in June 2017 and has over 750 highly qualified specialists dedicated to realizing our ambitious targets.

For more information please contact
Andrew C. Weiss
Senior Vice President, Head of Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Idorsia Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Hegenheimermattweg 91, CH-4123 Allschwil
+41 58 844 10 10

The above information contains certain "forward-looking statements", relating to the company's business, which can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "estimates", "believes", "expects", "may", "are expected to", "will", "will continue", "should", "would be", "seeks", "pending" or "anticipates" or similar expressions, or by discussions of strategy, plans or intentions. Such statements include descriptions of the company's investment and research and development programs and anticipated expenditures in connection therewith, descriptions of new products expected to be introduced by the company and anticipated customer demand for such products and products in the company's existing portfolio. Such statements reflect the current views of the company with respect to future events and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Many factors could cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the company to be materially different from any future results, performances or achievements that may be expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described herein as anticipated, believed, estimated or expected.