Updated to add Vivus obesity drug results.MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Vivus ( VVUS) has announced results from two pivotal studies of its obesity drug Qnexa, and the weight loss is impressive. In the "Equip" study of 1,267 morbidly obese patients, the full dose of Qnexa produced a placebo-adjusted weight loss of 9.4%. Sixty-seven percent of patients on full-dose Qnexa lost at least 5% of their body weight, compared with 17% of placebo patients. In the "conquer" study enrolling 2,487 patients (this group included patients who were less obese than those in the Equip study and also included patients with type 2 diabetes) the placebo-adjusted weight loss for Qnexa was 8.6%. Seventy percent of full-dose Qnexa patients lost at least 5% of their body weight, compared with 21% of placebo patients. Low- and mid-doses of Qnexa also were tested with good but less robust weight-loss results. Tolerability was good, with 59% of Qnexa patients completing the 56 weeks of the study. The drug's safety profile also looks clean, at least according to the press release. No suicide attempts, no suicidality risk or behavior detected in the study. Depression and depressive behavior were low at 2% across the study. The company also ran a safety study that demonstrated no heart-rate abnormalities in patients treated with Qnexa. Going by the data in the press release alone, Vivus' Qnexa data looks strong and tops the weight-loss results already seen by competitors Arena Pharmaceuticals ( ARNA) and Orexigen Therapeutics ( OREX).
So when I see Opexa release more of the same Tovaxin data Tuesday from a subset of patients in a failed phase II study and the stock surge 270%, all I can do is scratch my head, throw up my hands and mutter, "WTF?!?!"
This meeting has nothing to do with Antigenics ( AGEN) and its experimental vaccine adjuvant QS21. Yes, I'm aware of the message board buzz claiming that QS21 is a component of Cervarix and that if the vaccine is approved by the FDA and sold here, Glaxo will pay royalties to Antigenics based on Cervarix sales in the U.S. Well, sorry to play party pooper, but Glaxo spokesman Jeff McLaughlin told me that the adjuvant used to boost Cervarix is AS04, developed internally at Glaxo. Antigenics and QS21 have no role with Cervarix, he says. Glaxo is using QS21 in its experimental malaria vaccine, currently in phase III trials. -- Reported by Adam Feuerstein in Boston