Phase 3 clinical trials of Arena Pharmaceuticals’ lorcaserin showed that the drug not only helped people safely lose weight, but it also lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol. And the trials showed it does not have the heart-damaging side effect that has doomed previous weight-loss drugs.

That evidently was not enough for Wall Street, as Terri Somers writes in today’s U-T. Shares in the San Diego-based biotech dropped 28 percent on Monday. From Somers’ story:

Analysts and investors just didn’t think the number of pounds people dropped in the study prove that lorcaserin will be a blockbuster drug.

“On the efficacy side, the results were kind of underwhelming,” said Adam Cutler, an analyst with Canaccord Adams. “So I think if and when the drug gets approved, that is going to limit the sales potential.”

And in the short term, it is not going to help Arena and its dwindling bank account to attract a deep-pocketed Big Pharmaceuticals partner to help share the cost of commercializing the drug, Cutler said.

Arena shares plunged $1.27, or 28 percent, to close Monday at $3.23.

I wrote last month about Arena’s hopes for lorcaserin and a breakthrough year in 2009.

DAVID WASHBURN

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