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Anti-obesity drugs show their stuff on Wall Street

Local rivals Arena and Orexigen to speak to investors

As one of Wall Street’s top biotech conferences gets under way in New York today, two key companies to watch will be San Diego’s Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Orexigen Therapeutics Inc., says biotech reporter Brett Chase, writing in the investment analysis website Minyanville.

Investment fund managers will be hearing from more than 100 companies at the Bio CEO & Investor Conference, sponsored by the Biotechnology Industry Association. Chase says one of the six hottest topics at the conference is the race to bring new anti-obesity pills to the market.

Arena (Nasdaq: ARNA) is waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to give a green light for its approved drug Belviq to go on sale. Orexigen (Nasdaq: OREX) hopes to apply for approval for its drug Contrave this summer or fall. Vivus Inc. (Nasdaq: VVUS), based near Silicon Valley, launched a drug called Qsymia last September, but sales have been so slow that some major stockholders have called for the company to be sold.

Orexigen and Arena are slated to make presentations at Bio CEO Tuesday afternoon and the Leerink Swann Global Healthcare Conference on Wednesday morning.

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