Arena Pharma heralds late-stage obesity data

The CEO of Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA) says that a second set of late-stage data on its obesity drug lorcaserin continues to show that the drug significantly outperforms a placebo in triggering weight loss and improves cardiovascular risk factors like cholesterol and triglycerides. And that Phase III data leaves Arena right on track to file for regulatory approval late this year.

Two thirds of the patients who complied with the treatment protocol met the five percent weight loss threshold. Lief also told Reuters that there is "a lot of activity" regarding a potential partnership for the drug.

Arena is in one of the most closely watched foot races in biotechnology, competing with Vivus and Orexigen to get a swift approval for a new obesity drug. But analysts also note that the weight market is enormous, and each drug is designed to appeal to a specific group of patients.

"We need new therapies that help patients reduce their weight and improve cardiovascular factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, while avoiding cardiac toxicity and symptoms of depression," said Lee Kaplan, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Lorcaserin works by selectively affecting a unique and important pathway, which allows for significant weight loss and improvements in these important risk factors, along with an excellent safety and tolerability profile."

- check out Arena's release
- read the story from Reuters