The New York Times’ Andrew Pollack weighed in over the weekend on the race among three biotechs n two from San Diego — to be the first to market with a safe and effective obesity drug.

As has been wellchronicled in our pages, locally based Arena Pharmaceuticals and Orexigen Therapeutics are tantalizingly close to applying for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for their drugs, lorcaserin and Contrave, respectively.

But the ride hasn’t been without its bumps, especially for Arena, which has been criticized for overhyping its clinical trial results. And I got the sense from Pollack’s story that both Arena and Orexigen are lagging behind Bay Area-based Vivus, at least when it comes to trial results. But questions surround that drug as well:

Vivus’s drug, Qnexa, provided the greatest weight loss, which is why that company’s stock is up 90 percent this year, more than that of the other two companies. But Qnexa’s ingredients may raise the biggest safety questions, although the clinical trials did not detect major problems.

DAVID WASHBURN

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