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An experimental obesity drug, known as APD356, was shown to help patients lose weight in a 28-day trial. Arena Pharmaceuticals' oral drug was administered to patients in a 15-mg dose and, after 28 days of this treatment, the average weight loss for study participants was 2.9 lb, compared with a loss of 0.7 lbs in the placebo group. This phase 2 trial also tested APD356 at 1-mg and 5-mg doses, but weight loss at those levels was not significant. The drug acts by stimulating receptors in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates food intake and metabolism. During the 28 days, patients were encouraged to maintain normal diet and activity but eliminate alcohol. In that time, 20% of the APD356 group experienced headaches, compared with 14% of the placebo group.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.