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Experimental Weight-Loss Pill Passes Early Test
Date:12/12/2008

People lost significant weight; no side effects on heart seen, study says

FRIDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers are hoping that an experimental new weight-loss drug will prove to be a valuable new weapon in the crusade against obesity.

In recently released phase 2 trials, the drug, known as lorcaserin, resulted in substantial weight loss in obese men and women.

"Lorcaserin is a completely novel mechanism and we think it can bring very robust weight loss. But, also, the safety profile of the compound is excellent," said Dominic P. Behan, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Arena Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, which makes the drug and sponsored a study published in the Dec. 4 issue of the journal Obesity.

"We demonstrated a highly statistically significant, progressive weight loss. This study involved no diet or exercise and the weight loss was rapid and we saw the weight loss in as little as two weeks," he added.

A phase 3 trial is under way and, if all goes well, Arena Pharmaceuticals may file a new drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at the end of 2009, Behan said.

With some two-thirds of Americans either overweight or obese, the need for an effective weight loss tool is tremendous. Excess weight can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis and type 2 diabetes.

"Obesity is an epidemic," said Dr. Stuart Weiss, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at New York University's Langone Medical Center in New York City. "Diabetes trails behind obesity by a short few years and the numbers of patients that are developing diabetes is staggering."

Diet and exercise are proven antidotes for excess weight, but few people are able to sustain such changes and, even if they lose weight, will regain it.

Some weight-loss drugs are already on the market -- such as Xenical and Meridia
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