Diet no more: Arena sheds Belviq in Eisai sale

Dive Brief:

  • Flailing Arena Pharmaceuticals has finally given up on its New Year's resolution to lose weight, offloading its never-was weight loss drug Belviq (lorcaserin) to partner Eisai.
  • Arena remains eligible to earn $26 million in potential regulatory milestones, including $25 million upon global sales reaching $250 million in any 12 month period, and $1 million for approval in Brazil.
  • Arena will also receive $23 million over two years for inventory and could receive royalties of 9.5% on sales up to $175 million, with the royalty percentage increasing with sales. 

Dive Insight:

Arena and Eisai first hooked up to market the once-promising Belviq in November 2013. At the time, Belviq was the first-to-market of three weight loss drugs which investors were following closely.

All three drugs — from Arena, Orexigen Therapeutics and Vivus — spurred interest in the companies, leading investors to drive up stock prices as the drugs neared regulatory submission. 

Japanese pharmas Eisai and Takeda partnered with Arena and Orexigen, respectively, in hopes of entering the U.S. obesity market. 

Yet, they all faced regulatory hurdles from the Food and Drug Administration and had minimal efficacy at best. All three drugs have failed to gain traction and their respective companies now all trade around $2 per share.

Wednesday's move is a positive one for Arena, giving it the freedom to allocate more investment to other pipeline programs, including a Phase 2 candidate for ulcerative colitis and a Phase 2 candidate for Crohn's disease, as well as another drug for pulmonary arterial hypertension. 

Arena had $101.6 million in cash as of Sept. 30. 

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Filed Under: Mergers and Acquisitions / Deals
Top image credit: Flickr, Alan Cleaver