FDA Questions Safety Of Arena Diet Drug

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. government health officials say weight loss with a new diet drug from Arena Pharmaceuticals was minimal and safety questions remain about its effects on the heart.

Arena Pharmaceuticals has asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve its drug lorcaserin for obese and overweight patients. If approved the pill would be the first new prescription diet pill in a dozen years. However, in a review posted online, the FDA says weight loss with the drug was "relatively low" and questions whether the drug might cause heart valve-disease -- a side effect seen with older diet pills.

On Wednesday the FDA will ask a panel of experts to assess lorcaserin's safety. The agency is not required to follow the panel's advice, although it often does.

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