Fear of Failure

Another Setback for Zafgen’s Obesity Drug

This week brought another dose of bad news for everyone with an interest in Zafgen’s obesity drug, beloranib. A second patient taking the drug in a study of its use for treating Prader-Willi syndrome has died from a blood clot. Zafgen CEO Thomas Hughes said:

Our thoughts are with the patient and their family at this time. Patient safety remains our top priority and we are investigating the circumstances around this event.

We are working diligently to assemble and analyze the data from our ZAF-311 clinical trial to be able to provide a clear view of the safety and efficacy of beloranib in the PWS population. We remain committed to advancing beloranib as a potential new therapy for this underserved patient population.

Zafgen is sorting out the facts with experts in blood clotting and Prader-Willi syndrome to try to understand the extent of risk that beloranib may add to the already elevated risk of clotting in these patients. Meanwhile, studies of the drug are suspended entirely.

Prader-Willi syndrome is a severe form of obesity caused by a genetic defect that can be life-threatening. Few good options for treatment are available.

What remains to be seen is whether this once-promising drug for people with severe forms of obesity will progress or fall into the dustbin with other disappointing candidates for treating obesity.

Click here to read more from Reuters, here to read more from FierceBiotech, and here to read more from the Boston Globe.

Fear of Failure, photograph © Thomas Hawk / flickr

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December 5, 2015

2 Responses to “Another Setback for Zafgen’s Obesity Drug”

  1. December 10, 2015 at 8:23 am, Allen Browne said:

    Actually Zafgen and their CEO are to be congratulated for the careful transparent approach they have taken with a very high risk group of patients with obesity. Now careful analysis and assessment of risks for these patients has to be done rather than just deserting the project. When flipping a coin, heads can come up two or even three times in a row.

    • December 10, 2015 at 8:26 am, Ted said:

      I agree, Allen. Thanks!