Weak Qsymia sales have been the all-important issue for Vivus since the highly anticipated obesity therapy stumbled out of the gate, inspiring an all-out proxy war that wreaked havoc on the company's boardroom. And the California company isn't about to cede what market share it does have to Actavis--at least, not without a fight.
Orexigen Therapeutics is on the verge of FDA approval for its obesity drug, after several long years of delay and frustration. But despite its late-to-the-party status--it's the third weight-loss pill in a new generation of treatments--it may end up winning the popularity contest.
After a botched launch for obesity drug Qsymia, a bitter proxy war, a mass exodus of its directors and management and a continued sales struggle, the last thing Vivus needs is a generic threat. But thanks to Actavis, that's exactly what it's getting.
Vivus, a go-it-alone marketer with flailing obesity drug Qsymia, is discovering the joys of buddying up.
Both Vivus and Arena marketing partner Eisai have partnered with healthcare benefits provider Aetna, which will integrate rival obesity drugs Qsymia and Belviq into a weight-loss lifestyle pilot program.
Vivus says it's laying off 20 staffers to cut its losses as the obesity drug Qsymia continues to flounder. Launched last year, Qsymia brought in just $6.4 million for the third quarter, far from the lofty sales projected as the drug neared FDA approval. And with the drug still struggling for a market foothold, analysts worry that Vivus will have a hard time attracting a partner that can apply its marketing savvy to the job.
Analysts promised a battle of obesity drugs between Arena's Belviq and Vivus' Qsymia. But in marketing partner Eisai, Arena has a weapon Vivus lacks--and that weapon is about to get bigger. The Japanese company plans to add more than 200 sales reps to its army by December, doubling its size since the drug hit the market this June.
According to a research note from analyst Michael Yee at RBC Capital Markets, total Qsymia prescriptions for the weight-loss drug are up 7% week-over-week to 10,019, with new prescriptions up 6% week-over-week to 8,133.
Vivus announced second-quarter losses much worse than anyone expected. It took the first public comments from incoming CEO Tony Zook to sustain hopes for a turnaround.
The agreement will expand the board to 11 members from 9, with First Manhattan installing 6 directors as four Vivus directors step down. F ormer AstraZeneca exec Tony Zook, backed by FMC, is expected to round out the board, taking the place of current CEO Leland Wilson.