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New Diet Pill Awaits FDA Approval

Update Date: Jun 10, 2014 10:31 AM EDT

A new pill might soon be available for obese people who are trying to lose weight. The drug in question is Orexigen Therapeutics' Contrave, currently known as NB32. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to make a decision by this Wednesday and according to analysts, that decision will go in favor of the drug.

The FDA had previously rejected Contrave in January 2011. In order to resubmit an application for FDA review and approval, Orexigen conducted a multiyear study to find evidence that Contrave is safe for patients' cardiovascular health. So far, the ongoing study that involves 8,900 patients has found evidence that the drug is safe or safe enough.

The researchers reported that 53 percent of the people taking Contrave were able to lose at least five percent of their body weight. Only 21 percent of the people in the placebo group lost at least five percent of their body weight. Analysts added that unlike two other popular diet pills, Vivus' Qsymia and Arena's Belvig, Contrave contains an ingredient that helps patients stay on the medication longer, which could make the drug a better option for some patients. This ingredient is a mixture of naltrexone and bupropion.

"Bupropion, we believe, is what makes for greater persistence [of patients taking Contrave]," Piper Jaffray's Duncan said according to CNBC. "Being an antidepressant, it can help you feel good."

With all weight loss drugs, side effects can be expected. All three-drug manufacturers have been studying the potential dangers that the drugs might have on cardiovascular health. Aside from heart health, researchers are looking into the drugs' effects on mood, fetal health and other health concerns. Despite potential health concerns associated with Contrave, analysts expect the FDA to approve Contrave. If that happens, Contrive can contribute $1.2 to $1.5 billion in total sales in 2020.

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