Obesity pill shows promise: study

By Michael Kahn

LONDON (Reuters) - People taking NeuroSearch A/S’s obesity pill tesofensine lost twice as much weight as men and women using approved weight loss drugs, Danish researchers said on Thursday.

The study suggest the experimental drug is safe because it had no effect on blood pressure and only raised heart rate slightly, said Arne Astrup of the University of Copenhagen, who led the study published in the journal Lancet.

“It is quite solid from this study that it seems to produce a weight loss that is twice … what we see from existing compounds on the market,” Astrup said in a telephone interview.

The company hopes to take tesofensine to Phase III clinical trials early next year — the last stage of human testing before a company can seek regulatory approval for a drug.

Obesity, which raises the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart problems, is increasingly a problem as more people adopt a Western lifestyle.

The World Health Organization classifies around 400 million people around the world as obese, representing an increasingly lucrative market for drug makers.

Astrup and his team compared tesofensine against the Sanofi-Aventis SA obesity-fighting drug Acomplia and Abbott Laboratories’ Reductil, known as Meridia in the United States.

The 203 obese volunteers at five Danish obesity centers were given different doses of tesofensine or placebo. The drug worked twice as well as previously published data on Acomplia and Reductil, known generically as sibutramine, the study showed.  Continued…

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