New Weight Loss Drug Shows Promise

A new weight loss drug by Arena Pharmaceuticals shows promising results in clinical trials, and could hit store shelves by early next year.

Arena Pharmaceuticals has reached a deal with Japan’s Eisai Inc. possibly worth more than $1 billion to fund commercialization of a new weight loss drug that could be on the market by early next year. The drug, lorcaserin, has not yet been given a brand name but is one of a new wave of experimental obesity drugs that show promise.

Lorcaserin interacts with a receptor in the brain that is involved in appetite suppression, according to the San Diego-based pharmaceutical manufacturer. The company reports that in a late stage weight loss study of lorcaserin that included 6,000 patients, 47 percent of patients taking the drug lost at least five percent of their body weight, compared to only 23 percent in the group taking a placebo. A five percent weight loss is said to bring significant health benefits, according to many medical experts.

Finding a safe weight loss pill that will help people shed pounds has proven difficult, with many past drugs failing because of limited effectiveness or unpleasant side effects. The makers of lorcaserin say that the drug’s safety and tolerability are much better than other weight loss drugs.

Eisai reportedly will pay $50 million upfront for rights to sell lorcaserin in the U.S. Arena could also get as much as $160 million in payments for reaching development targets and getting the weight loss drug approved by regulators. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is already reviewing lorcaserin and is expected to reach a decision by late October.

2 Responses

  1. Steve H

    I have been following the development of Lorcaserin for close to two years through their trial periods. Each trial phase meets and exceeds the FDA guidlines for weight loss drug candidates. Lorcaserin also has shown clinical test results favorable to Type II diabetes patients enrolled in the study, with the test data specific to Type II to be released shortly. When approved, it potentially can be a part of a doctor’s front line combined therapy treatment for overweight Type II diabetes patients.

    In my opinion this new compound will pass the FDA and be approved. Of the three weight loss drugs pending FDA approval, Arena’s (ARNA) Lorcaserin presents the highest saftey levels. It should become the first choice for doctor’s, investors, and patients.

  2. Richard Ho

    Weigh loss drug is meant to take continuously or indefinitely for weight control. A recent FDA spokeperson has made that point, thus averse side effects must be ruled out. I think Lorcaserin has shown clearly to have achieved that goal coupled with weight loss within the FDA guideline. This is a novel drug developed with a large subjects in trials, so I think we have finally come up with a new drug for the weight management industry. Eisai has the leg up over all the other large drug companies to ink this contract.