The dream of everyone who has ever dieted and failed, a simple pill to help you lose weight, has successfully completed a Phase 3 trial and will be submitted to the FDA for approval next year.
(Picture of a small bag of McDonald's Fries from the company's Canadian Web site. If your eyes are very keen you will see a tiny maple leaf on the bag.)
Contrave, from Orexigen Therapeutics of San Diego, was used on over 4,500 and was three times better than a placebo in helping patients lose 5% or more of their body weight. It was also well tolerated, even by diabetics.
Contrave is not the only drug in the obesity pipeline:
- Arena Pharmaceuticals is testing what it calls Lorcasin Hydrochloride, which targets the 5-HT serotonin receptor in the hypothalmus.
- Vivus is testing Qnexa, which combines Phentermine and Topiramate, the latter originally offered as an epilepsy medication.
Shares of Orexigen rose over 20% when news of the success broke.
It's likely that, if FDA approval is granted, the drug will be first tried on diabetics who need to lose weight in order to control their condition, before going out to the general population of the obese.
The news comes just a week after The New Yorker published a long feature on the causes of obesity, which concluded that larger portions and the human tendency to eat what is put in front of us are big contributors to the rise of obesity over the last 20 years.
Now there may be a pill for that, something that convinces you the small bag of fries at McDonald's will satisfy as well as the big box.