LA JOLLA, Calif. (TheStreet) -- Obese Americans taking Orexigen Therapeutics' (OREX) Contrave to lose weight cut their risk of having a heart attack, stroke or dying from heart disease by almost half compared to people taking a placebo, according to results from a large heart-safety study disclosed for the first time Tuesday.
The new data were culled from a relatively early, interim analysis and may change as the study continues, but for now, the news is very good for Orexigen and its weight-loss pill Contrave. When Orexigen began this study, the goal was to rule out significant heart safety risk tied to Contrave. Instead, the data so far show Contrave may actually contribute to a heart-safety benefit for those who use it.
Orexigen used the new Contrave heart-safety data to win a new patent which extends intellectual protection for the drug another seven years to 2034. If published or included in Contrave's label, the data could also provide a big marketing advantage over competitors Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA) and Vivus (VVUS)
Orexigen shares reacted positively to the new Contrave data, jumping 53% to $8.86 in Tuesday trading, a new 52-week high for the stock.
The 9,000-patient LIGHT study is being conducted to determine the heart-safety profile of Contrave. Orexigen had previously announced that an interim analysis at 25% of events ruled out an increased risk in heart-related events tied to Contrave.