September 19, 2012
If you're a health care investor, the drugmakers targeting America's obese population have been a hot topic lately.
FDA approvals for Arena Pharmaceuticals' Belviq and VIVUS' Qsymia have made them the front runners in this space, though VIVUS is out of the gates first following Qsymia's commercial release earlier this week. However, being first out of the gates doesn't quite guarantee success for VIVUS. What it will provide the company with is an advantage going into this week's Obesity Society annual meeting, beginning Thursday. I expect there to be an incredible focus on these new drugs this week, and predict that many observations will be made in the media regarding physician preferences between the two drugs as the conference progresses.
Only time will tell which company takes a bigger slice of the pie here, and strong arguments have been made supporting both companies. Investors also need to keep in mind that that Arena and VIVUS won't be alone forever. Orexigen is looking to become a third player in this market, while another future participant, Zafgen, has seen promising data in early trials. There are also some less-invasive medical devices developed that have shown promising results in helping patients lose weight, and while these are largely longer term competitive issues, they're certainly topics to be aware of.
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