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Original Source: FD (FAIR DISCLOSURE) WIRE
JON LECROY, ANALYST, NATIXIS BLEICHROEDER: All right, we will take it off here. Thanks, everyone, for attending the first Natixis Bleichroeder Hidden Gems conference. Today, we are doing a fireside chat with Arena Pharmaceuticals. I am Jon LeCroy, the pharmaceutical and biotech analyst at Natexis, and I would like to introduce Robert Hoffman. He is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Arena. He has been at the Company 10 years, and Arena currently has five major drugs in development that we see as a huge value opportunity. They have lorcaserin in Phase III for obesity, which most people know. They also have APD125 for insomnia, APD791 for thrombosis, and two development deals, one with Merck and one with Johnson & Johnson.
And so Robert, why don't I start the discussion by asking you to sort of give a general overview of Arena's R&D strategy, and then we will dig a little deeper into some of the pipeline products.
ROBERT HOFFMAN, CFO, VP FINANCE, ARENA PHARMACEUTICALS: Sure. Like he said, I have been with Arena for ten years now. We started out of my house. We have grown our capabilities to 400 employees now. We have a research engine that we think we can continue to move programs forward by putting one compound in preclinical development per year. We have been successful with that, either on ourselves or with partners. And so we have built up our chemistry efforts, as well as research. We have about 100 people in research, and plus chemistry, about 70 chemists. So again, we have this engine that we continue to move forward.
We focus on G protein-coupled receptors, or GPCRs. Everything we work on is orally bioavailable. So again, a very rich area. Plavix, Prozac and other blockbusters work on GPCRs, so we are in a very rich area. We think we have capabilities to not only pick selective but areas of interest that we have core expertise in. So again, we can continue to exploit that area with our extensive database.
We have since built up our development efforts, so we think we can take a drug and move it from early discovery all the way into late-stage clinical development.
JON LECROY: Well, why don't we start with lorcaserin, since that is your lead program?
ROBERT HOFFMAN: I am just going to walk over here -- my little prop here.
JON LECROY: So lorcaserin obviously is in a major Phase III trial for obesity.
ROBERT HOFFMAN: That is correct.
JON LECROY: So maybe touch on that trial and a little bit about the compound and the marketing.
ROBERT HOFFMAN: Sure. Before I do that, I was catching up on the airplane on my reading, and I don't catch up unless I go on a trip, and I came across in the Journal of Life Sciences an article, and I will just read it real quick. It says, more than just a few extra pounds. Obesity is a public health crisis. If Americans continue to gain weight at the current rate, three out of four adults will be overweight and 41% obese by 2015, according to a study released in July by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. If nothing is done, obesity will soon become the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, said co-author [Mave Baden] in a statement.
Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic worldwide too in Europe, and increasingly in developing countries with strong economic growth, such as Brazil and China. So again, we can see that obesity unfortunately is a growing area and I think there is an increased awareness that it is a disease and what not.
In terms of Arena, we have an ongoing Phase III clinical trial, a very large Phase III study of 3182 overweight/obese patients. We have included diet and exercise in that. It's a two-year study. We …