Shionogi aims for obesity drug success

Shionogi is hoping to succeed where Merck, Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline have failed. The Japanese drug company is sticking with the development of its experimental obesity drug velneperit, even though other companies have dumped development of similar drugs in its class.

Shionogi will be facing a major loss of revenue when the blockbuster cholesterol med Crestor, the drug it discovered and developed, goes off patent in 2016. Approval of velneperit and an AIDS treatments in its pipeline are vital if the company hopes to offset the plunge in profits. But some analysts are skeptical of velneperit, as there are concerns about the drug's efficacy. "I've not been impressed with the drug," Gareth Powell of Polar Capital Partners tells Bloomberg. "If they relied on this as the sole replacement of Crestor, I'd be pretty nervous."

Still, Shionogi's velneperit bet may be one worth taking, as the wide-open obesity market remains virtually untapped. The company is awaiting results from a third trial of the drug as a monotherapy, as well as study of velneperit used in combination with Roche's Xenical.

- here's the Bloomberg article

ALSO: Speaking of obesity treatments, Arena Pharmaceuticals filed an NDA for its obesity drug candidate lorcaserin today. It's the first in new class of drugs that includes experimental treatments from Vivus and Orexigen Therapeutics. Arena Release