With America’s obesity epidemic becoming a pressing medical concern, there is increasing demand for new drugs to combat weigh gain.
Today, the Food and Drug Administration granted approval to Belviq, developed by Arena Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ:ARNA), the first new prescription weight loss medication in more than a decade.
Arena shares soared more than 28% on the news in Wednesday afternoon trading.
Belviq produced average weight loss of between 3% and 3.7% of body weight over the course of a year in clinical trials, though some patients lost 5%, the Associated Press noted.
The drug was initially rejected in 2010 due to the development of tumors in test animals. More recent testing found no tumor risks in humans.
Belviq has been approved for overweight adults suffering from diabetes, high cholesterol or other health issues.
FDA officials said Belviq’s use in combination with proper exercise and a healthy diet offered a new option for adults with “at least one weight-related comorbid condition.”
The FDA has postponed a ruling on Vivus‘ (NASDAQ:VVUS) highly anticipated weight loss drug Qnexa until July.