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Stock of biotech Arena Pharmaceuticals is down 38.83% to $4.19 this morning on bad Food and Drug Administration news on the developmental weight loss drug "lorcaserin." A staff review indicated three safety issues, including valvular heart disease, neuro-psychiatric and cognitive-related events, and preclinical tumor development in rats. The FDA staff also said that lorcaserin 10 mg tablets were only efficacious by a slim margin. The company faces a broader review Thursday, but this report would seem to set up very significant hurdles. San Diego's Orex Therapeutics, which is also trying to develop a weight loss program, but doesn't go to the FDA until December, was down almost 7% in sympathy.

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Don Bauder Sept. 16, 2010 @ 2:23 p.m.

NOTE: An FDA panel voted today (Sept. 16) to deny the application of Arena Pharmaceuticals for its developmental weight loss treatment "lorcaserin." The vote was 9-5. The panel said that available data do not adequately demonstrate that the potential benefits of lorcaserin outweigh the potential risks. The company will have a conference call at 7 a.m. tomorrow (Sept. 17) Eastern time to discuss the findings. Trading in the stock has been halted. Best, Don Bauder

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