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POSTED February 24, 2012 8:28 p.m.

MIRACLE DIET DRUG ELUSIVE: WASHINGTON (AP) — The battle of the bulge has been a big, fat failure for U.S. drugmakers. But that hasn't stopped them from trying.

For nearly a century, scientists have struggled to make a diet pill that helps people lose weight without side effects that range from embarrassing digestive issues to dangerous heart problems.

Earlier this week, a government panel recommended the FDA approve the latest diet drug Qnexa. The recommendation raises hopes that the U.S. could approve the first anti-obesity drug in more than a decade. It also highlights how challenging it is to create a pill that fights fat in a variety of people without negative side effects. Even Qnexa was previously rejected over concerns that it can cause heart palpitations and birth defects if taken by pregnant women.

An effective and safe diet pill would be an easy sale in the U.S.: With more than 75 million obese adults, the nation's obesity rate is nearing 35 percent. But the biggest problem in creating a weight-loss drug is that there appears to be no safe way to turn off one of the human body's most fundamental functions.

For millions of years, humans have been programmed to consume calories and store them as energy, or fat. It's this biological mechanism that makes it almost impossible to quickly lose weight by not eating. Cutting down on food instead sends stronger signals to the body to store more calories.

DISH NETWORK TO CLOSE 500 BLOCKBUSTER STORES: ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Dish Network Corp. says in an annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it plans to close more than 500 Blockbuster stores this year.

Dish acquired the Blockbuster video-store chain in April. The closures would leave Blockbuster with about 1,000 retail stores.

Dish spokesman Marc Lumpkin tells The Denver Post the stores that will close aren't performing well and are primarily unprofitable. He says about 150 Blockbuster stores sell the company's satellite television services, but that number will grow.

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GOOGLE TO SELL CLEARWIRE STAKE AT 94 PERCENT LOSS: NEW YORK (AP) — Google Inc. on Friday said it will sell its stake in Clearwire Corp., the struggling operator of a wireless data network. The search company is taking a 94 percent loss on the originally $500 million investment made in 2008.

Google said in a regulatory filing that it's seeking to sell its stake starting Monday for $1.60 per share, or $47 million total.

Clearwire shares fell 16 cents, or 6.8 percent, to close Friday at $2.11.

 

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