A key patent awarded to a drug development company working on a weight loss therapy could lead to promising, future treatments for curtailing obesity. The new patent, entitled “Method of Weight Management,” covers BELVIQ® (lorcaserin HCl) for chronic weight management was granted to Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc., by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
BELVIQ (lorcaserin HCl) is a serotonin 2C receptor agonist, a compound that activates serotonin receptors much as serotonin does. Several functions have been attributed to serotonin in the central nervous system such as the regulation of mood, appetite, and sleep. BELVIQ seems to decrease food uptake and induces satiety by activating specifically serotonin 2C receptors in the brain. However, how exactly BELVIQ functions is unknown. Arena notes that the effectiveness of BELVIQ therapy should be analyzed by week 12, and if a patient has not lost at least 5% of baseline body weight, the therapy with BELVIQ should be interrupted, since at this point, the patient will likely not achieve and sustain clinically significant weight loss by continuing the therapy. As BELVIQ is a serotonergic drug, it should be administrated with caution since it could lead to the development of potentially severe serotonin syndrome or Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS)-like reactions, as well as other side effects. Additionally, the compound should not be given to pregnant women or to women planning to become pregnant.
In the United States, BELVIQ has been used as complement to a lower caloric diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight control in adults with body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or greater (obese) or 27 kg/m2 or greater (overweight) with at least one extra medical condition associated with excessive weight, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes. The safety and efficacy of BELVIQ together with other compounds used for weight loss and its outcome on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality have not been recognized.
Harry F. Hixson, Jr., Arena’s interim Chief Executive Officer, said in a press release that this patent is based on the finding that if at week 12 after treatment there is a 5% decrease in weight loss with BELVIQ, very good responses in weight loss can be expected at week 52 of therapy.
Arena Pharmaceuticals expect that this method-of-treatment patent will give it extra support for exclusivity in the United States until 2032 and additional reinforcement to their intellectual property position for BELVIQ.