Obesity drug maker Arena books smaller 3Q loss

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Weight loss drugmaker Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Tuesday that its third-quarter loss shrank as its research and development and manufacturing costs declined.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Belviq in June, and Arena's partner Eisai Co. will start selling the drug in the first quarter of 2013. Belviq was the first long-term weight loss drug to get FDA approval in more than a decade. Regulators in the European Union and Switzerland are also reviewing Belviq for sale there.

Arena reported losses of $15.5 million, or 7 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. In the third quarter of 2011 Arena lost $22.7 million, or 16 cents per share. Its revenue declined to $1.5 million from $3.5 million, but most costs declined and the company booked a gain on revaluing derivatives and recorded interest income.

Analysts were forecasting a larger loss of 9 cents per share and $2.4 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

On Tuesday Arena also announced a marketing partnership for Belviq in South Korea. It said Ildong Pharmaceutical Co. will work to win marketing approval for Belviq in South Korea and will market the drug there if it is approved. Arena will be paid $5 million upfront and $3 million more if the drug is cleared for marketing. San Diego-based Arena will manufacture Belviq and sell it to Ildong.

Arena shares lost 35 cents, or 4.4 percent, to $7.60 on Tuesday.

Separately, shares of Arena's competitor Vivus Inc. plunged after Vivus reported early data for its weight loss drug Qsymia, which was approved a few weeks after Belviq and reached the market in September. Vivus said large numbers of Qsymia prescriptions were going unfilled because of limited insurance coverage and high copays for the drug.

Vivus shares fell 21 percent to $11.82.

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