Repaving the road

Metabolic Milestones

Repaving the road

While much of the attention on obesity is focused on the July 27 PDUFA date for Acomplia rimonabant, the first-in-class cannabinoid CB1 receptor antagonist from sanofi-aventis Group (Euronext:SAN; SNY, Paris, France), a number of biotech companies have moved past Phase II into late-stage testing with programs that look to improve on existing weight loss drugs.

Other players also have reached later stages of development by using new biological insights to resurrect fallen obesity approaches. And a third leg to the obesity stool includes biotechs that are pursuing drugs that have been developed for other indications in hopes of making obesity therapeutics with well-established safety profiles.

In the late 1990s, FDA approved a pair of drugs for sustained use: Meridia sibutramine, a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor from Abbott Laboratories (ABT, Abbott Park, Ill.), and Xenical orlistat, a lipase inhibitor from Roche (SWX:ROG, Basel, Switzerland) and marketing

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