Zogenix Hopes to Use Obesity Drug to Fight Childhood Seizures

San Diego drugmaker Zogenix said Wednesday that a drug once used to fight obesity before it was taken off the market may help treat a rare disease that causes severe seizures in young children.

The company said some patients who were given low doses of the drug fenfluramine had no seizures for five years, and others went several years without experiencing one. The results come from a five-year study of 12 patients who suffer from a condition called Dravet syndrome.

Fenfluramine was the “fen” in the anti-obesity treatment known as fen-phen. Fenfluramine was sold in the U.S. for about 25 years, but in 1997 it was taken off the market because it was linked to heart valve disease. Zogenix said research has long shown that it can reduce epileptic seizures, however.

Zogenix said it plans to start late-stage testing of the drug in the second half of 2015, and it hopes to file for marketing approval in the U.S. and the European Union in late 2016.

Zogenix developed the painkiller Zohydro, but in April it sold the product to Pernix Therapeutics so it could focus on researching drugs that treat central nervous system disorders like its low-dose fenfluramine drug, or ZX008, and a once-per-month schizophrenia injection called Relday.

Shares of Zogenix Inc. rose 9 cents, or 6.5 percent, to $1.48 in afternoon trading Wednesday. The stock has fallen 29 percent over the last year

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