Vivus says Qnexa helped treat sleep apnea in study

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — Vivus Inc. said Thursday a clinical study shows its obesity drug Qnexa helped treat sleep apnea by improving weight loss.

Vivus said subjects who took Qnexa had a 69 percent reduction in sleep apnea events. They also lost more weight than those who took a placebo, as well as lower blood pressure and higher oxygen levels during sleep.

The Mountain View, Calif. company enrolled 45 obese men and women in the mid-stage clinical trial. The subjects were aged 30 to 65, and for 28 weeks, they took either Qnexa or a placebo once per day and participated in a “lifestyle modification program.”

Sleep apnea is a condition in which people struggle to breathe or stop breathing while they sleep. Vivus said about 18 million people in the U.S. have sleep apnea.

Vivus said patients on Qnexa lost 10.2 percent of their body weight, or almost 24 pounds, in 28 weeks. patients who took the placebo lost 4.3 percent of their weight, or almost 11 pounds. The most common side effects of Qnexa were dry mouth, altered taste and sinus infection. No serious side effects were reported.

Vivus asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve Qnexa as a treatment for obesity in late 2009, and additional approvals could boost sales.

In premarket trading, Vivus shares climbed 58 cents, or 6.3 percent, to $9.81.