Arena (ARNA) Partner Eisai May Also Have Promising Weight-Loss Pill in the Works

October 16, 2012 9:29 AM EDT
Arena Pharmaceutical (Nasdaq: ARNA) shares are notably higher Tuesday amid news that its partner in BELVIQ might have an weight-loss drug winner on its hands as well.

According to Bloomberg, citing a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine today, Eisai Co.'s Zonegram (zomisamide) -- an epilepsy drug -- was also successful in helping patients lose weight. Data shows that patients who took 400-milligrams (MG) of Zonegram each day for one year dropped 7.3 pounds more than those taking a placebo.

Amid the weight loss, mood changes and memory problems were two side effects from Zonegram versus the placebo. Researchers stated, "The drug’s benefit-to-risk ratio needs thoughtful and cautious assessment."

Data comes from the first randomized, controlled study, so there will still be a long way to go before anything concrete is concluded.

Notably, zomisamide is also used in Orexigen's (Nasdaq: OREX) weight-loss drug Empatic.

Eisai and Arena were partners in developing BELVIQ, which recently won FDA approval over the summer. Another competitor recently approved was VIVIS, Inc.'s (Nasdaq: VVUS) Qsymia, which contains the antiseizure medication Topamax in combination with phentermine.

Arena is up about 0.5 pecent early, while VIVUS and Orexigen are flat.

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