UPDATE 2-Arena files for approval for weight loss drug
* Drug expected to compete with Vivus, Orexigen
* Arena shares rise 0.8 pct on Nasdaq (Updates share price, adds details)
BOSTON, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc (ARNA.O) said on Tuesday it has submitted an application with regulators to market its experimental weight loss drug lorcaserin.
The company has said a 4,000-patient trial found that 47.2 percent of subjects taking lorcaserin twice a day lost 5 percent or more of their weight after a year, compared with 25 percent of patients taking a placebo. The average weight loss in patients taking lorcaserin was 12.7 pounds.
In patients who completed the trial and did not drop out, 63.2 percent lost at least 5 percent of their weight compared with 34.9 percent of patients on placebo. About 35 percent lost at least 10 percent of their weight.
The average weight loss for lorcaserin patients after one year was 17 pounds, compared with 8.7 pounds for the placebo group.
The company is competing with rivals Vivus Inc (VVUS.O) and Orexigen Therapeutics Inc (OREX.O) to develop the first new prescription weight loss drug in a decade.
Orexigen plans next year to file for approval of its drug, Contrave, which combines the antidepressant Wellbutrin, known generically as bupropion, with naltrexone, an opioid blocker used to treat alcoholism.
The biggest hope in the space, however, is Qnexa, an experimental drug being developed by Vivus. In a late-stage clinical trial, 1,267 morbidly obese patients who completed the trial with Qnexa lost an average of 37 pounds, or 14.7 percent of their body weight, in the course of a year, compared with a body weight loss of 2.5 percent for patients taking a placebo.
Qnexa combines relatively low doses of the generic stimulant phentermine with the epilepsy drug topiramate, sold under the brand name Topamax.
Arena shares were up 0.8 percent at $3.77 on Tuesday afternoon on the Nasdaq. (Reporting by Toni Clarke; editing by John Wallace and Matthew Lewis)
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