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Roche signs deal on anti-obesity drugs

Roche hopes to develop other drugs to complement Xenical Keystone Archive

The Basel-based pharmaceuticals company, Roche, has signed an agreement with a British firm to research and develop anti-obesity drugs.

In a statement, Roche said its collaboration with Vernalis aimed to develop highly selective 5-HT2C receptor agonists as appetite suppressants. In 1997, Vernalis scientists discovered that these receptors played an important role
In controlling the feeling of being full after eating.

In many obese people, this mechanism does not appear to function and leads to the consumption of too many calories.

Such drugs will work in a quite different way to Roche’s existing obesity treatment, Xenical, which targets fat absorption. Experts say Xenical can also have unpleasant side effects which limits its long-term use.

Under the agreement, Roche will gain access to the product line and will pay royalties to Vernalis on worldwide net sales.

Roche says obesity is gaining recognition as a global epidemic. It is estimated that upwards of 250 million people worldwide are obese.

The greatest prevalence of obesity is in the US, where more than a third of the population is classified as obese and 54 per cent as overweight. The total cost of diseases arising from the problem is estimated in the US at around $70 billion or about 9.4 per cent of national health care expenditure.

swissinfo with agencies

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