Can faster-acting data put Vivus' Stendra on a faster launch track?

It's a good thing that the new erectile-dysfunction drug Stendra works more quickly than its developer does. Vivus ($VVUS) may finally get the drug onto the market, thanks to new data showing that Stendra works in 15 minutes, rather than 30 as previously recommended.

CEO Peter Tam

As Dow Jones reports, the company says that it's in talks with prospective sales partners that had been waiting for the study data. "Potential partners have been anticipating these results, [and] the results were more positive than what they would have hoped," Vivus President Peter Tam told the news service. "If we can get a deal soon, we can get it to market sometime later this year or early next year."

If Vivus manages to put Stendra on sale in the U.S. by year's end, that would still be more than a year and half after FDA approved the drug. Vivus has been scouting for a marketing partner ever since, leaving investors wondering when Stendra might actually see the light of day. Meanwhile, the company has also been focusing on the launch of its new obesity drug Qsymia, which has delivered disappointing sales so far. Ironically, Vivus chose to forego a Big Pharma partner for the Qsymia launch, preferring to go it alone--and now, activist investors are using that choice as a weapon it a proxy fight.

Vivus hopes to use the new study to gain new labeling from the FDA, recommending that Stendra be taken 15 minutes before sex, rather than the previously recommended 30 minutes. That quicker timetable would differentiate it from competing treatments, such as the ubiquitous Viagra from Pfizer ($PFE) and Cialis from Eli Lilly ($LLY), Tam told Dow Jones. Both of those drugs are entrenched blockbusters, so Stendra will need some kind of an edge to compete. Vivus says men are instructed to take those drugs one to two hours before sex, or daily.

- check out the Vivus release
- read the Dow Jones piece