Belviq, the recently approved anti-obesity drug developed by San Diego’s Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc., is now being studied for its use in smoking cessation.
The company will begin Phase 2 clinical trials in the first half of this year to evaluate whether Belviq, also called lorcaserin, will be effective in curbing the urge to smoke. Arena (Nasdaq: ARNA) along with its marketing partner, Japanese drugmaker Eisai Co., will share equally in the expense to fund a 600-person, 12-week clinical trial, the companies said.
Eisai will additionally enroll 12,000 patients in a large-scale study to examine the cardiovascular outcomes of using Belviq in overweight patients, the company said.
Shares for Arena have risen since the company announced its plans, closing at $7.72 on Jan. 16 – up 21 percent from Jan. 10, the day before the announcement, when it was trading at $6.37. Sales for Belviq have also seen an uptick in recent weeks, which can also be responsible for the stock gains, analysts said.