Arena files for FDA approval of obesity drug

AP News
Posted: Dec 22, 2009 11:01 AM

The first of a new class of obesity drugs moved one step closer to the market Tuesday, as Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. said it filed for approval of its drug candidate lorcaserin.

The San Diego company reported data from two successful late stage trials of lorcaserin this year, and its shares edged higher in morning trading.

If approved, lorcaserin will probably compete against Vivus Inc.'s Qnexa and Orexigen Therapeutics Inc.'s Contrave32, both of which are still in development. Vivus expects to file for FDA approval in early 2010, and Orexigen plans to make its filing by the end of 2010.

Because the drugs could reach the market around the same time, Wall Street has been comparing the sales potential of the three drugs for months. Several analysts believe Qnexa will have the strongest sales because patients on that drug have lost the most weight in studies.

Another potential benefit for Qnexa is that it is intended to be taken once per day. Contrave32 is also a once-per-day drug, while lorcaserin is taken twice per day.

In morning trading, Arena shares rose 10 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $3.84.