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Another Big Failure for VIVUS, Inc.

Vivus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VVUS  ) is having an absolutely awful day, with the stock down more than 13% after the company reported its Q4 results. The launch of its first-in-class obesity drug Qsymia was very highly anticipated among investors with the market potential being huge in this space, but sales just aren't panning out that way. The other major competitor in this space is a drug called Belviq from Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA  ) , which was also highly anticipated and also disappointed in sales, though sales are better than Qsymia, despite being prescribed roughly half as frequently.

In this video, Motley Fool health-care analyst David Williamson points to Vivus' marketing tactics as one big problem for its sales. The company is offering Qsymia at a discount, with free initial doses followed by doses at $75 per month for up to 3 months. The percentage of free scripts were 23% total. David also looks at why management's suggestion that the poor sales are a seasonal problem doesn't make sense, and looks ahead to one other potential candidate that may finally win the war in the obesity space.

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Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2014, at 5:30 PM, sp500chartdotcom wrote:

    OREX is doing better because enough speculators are filling in every 'blank' with a positive outlook. The fact is, Contrave has a horrible side effects profile. More than 25% of Contrave trial patients dropped out due to side effects. Compare that to about 16% for standard dose Qsymia and only 8% for Belviq.

    Also, both Qsymia and Contrave had twice the dropouts as their respective placebo arms while Belviq's dropouts were 8% in both the Belviq arm and the placebo.

    Additionally, and this is the thing that nobody really seems to be willing to embrace, both Qsymia and Contrave are just reformulations of already-existing generic drugs. There is nothing new in concept or in chemistry here. The only thing new that they bring is a timed-release component. That's it.

    Finally, both Qsymia and Contrave are DUAL agent approaches. They both combine two drugs gain their efficacy. Belviq is a SINGLE agent. That means Belviq will likely be paired with either phentermine or metformin and rise to the top of the heap in efficacy while retaining best in class status in safety.

    My bet is on Belviq and ARNA here. The novel chemical compound will take a little longer to be embraced by MD's but as long as it remains as safe in the real world as it was in the 8000 patient trials that should happen soon.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2014, at 12:27 AM, aprince wrote:

    The word on Belviq from the weight loss community is that it does not work.And yes,there is a cheaper generic version of Qsymia that does called the combo.Qsymia does work, but the number one cause of lack of sales of these or any drug will be that insurance companies refuse to cover the cost to patients who need and qualify for them. That is what is happening.The patient finds a Dr. that will prescribe-not very easy to do since most Drs. still have not heard of them and know nothing about weight loss beyond eat less:patient is shocked to find drug not covered by their insurance even though medically prescribed,patient given coupon,patient tries drug,patient loses some,patient happy,patient pays up to $300 out of pocket for 30 day supply to lose about 5 lbs-gives up rather than spend that amount of money that needs to go to bills,family,and just plain existing.Until insurance pays for weight loss drugs the same way it pays for other health related issues there will be no profit.And that combo that works?About $20 for generic scripts

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David Williamson

The Motley Fool's Healthcare Analyst, I specialize in Pharma, Biotech, and how the ACA (Obamacare) is changing the business of healthcare in America. Follow me on Twitter for breaking stock news, policy thoughts, and misc musings...

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