A recent letter to shareholders from Vivus' (NASDAQ: VVUS ) largest stockholder, investment advisory firm First Manhattan and owner of an estimated 9.9% of Vivus' outstanding shares, outlines a list of reasons it believes shareholders should vote to oust the existing board of directors and management team of Vivus at its upcoming shareholder meeting, scheduled for July 15. First Manhattan also announced that should Vivus shareholders vote to remove current management, it intends to appoint former AstraZeneca executive Tony Zook as new CEO.
While First Manhattan lists multiple concerns involving Vivus management, including what it views as domestic marketing miscues and expense management issues, at the forefront is the contention that Vivus has mishandled the rollout of its obesity drug, Qsymia. According to First Manhattan, Qsymia's slow launch is "a direct consequence of the sitting board and management's failure to engage a primary care pharmaceutical partner in the pre-launch years."
In response to First Manhattan's concerns, Vivus has released its own letter to shareholders. Speaking directly to First Manhattan's concerns surrounding Qsymia, Vivus notes that "we have made significant progress in establishing obesity as a drug treatment category and broadening reimbursement coverage." The Vivus board of directors added, "Qsymia is a unique product, and we are confident that it will be a top-selling drug."
Vivus' letter to shareholders urges shareholders to ignore First Manhattan's proxy request and to vote in favor of its current board of directors and senior management team, adding, "The fate of the Qsymia opportunity is at stake."