VIVUS, Inc (NASDAQ:VVUS)’s heavyweight rival Belviq finally in arena, Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc (NASDAQ:ARNA)
VIVUS, Inc (NASDAQ:VVUS)’ Qysmia finally has a rival. Arena’s Belviq was launched on 7 June and hit the U.S shelves on 11 June. The drug has been a long awaited one but not necessarily one that people will be pulling-off the shelves in a hurry. VIVUS, Inc (NASDAQ:VVUS) with its Qysmia has already been there and done that when it comes to the launch of a much-touted anti-obesity drug. It too went through the thrill of being the long-awaited one but its uptake has not met expectations.
What’s in Qysmia?
Qsymia is a combination of two generic drugs but in an entirely new formulation. One half of the drug is made up of topiramate the migraine and seizure medication. Topiramate leads to weight-loss in various ways. An increase in a feeling of fullness, food tastes less-appetizing and increased calorie burning are all the benefits of this half. The other half, phentermine is an appetite-suppressant. It is believed that this appetite-suppressant acts by triggering the release of a brain chemical which increases blood-concentration of leptin, the appetite-regulator hormone.
Why did Qysmia fail to make an impact?
There are numerous possible reasons for the icy-response to Qysmia. The primary reason for this being the lack of awareness about the drug among front-line physicians and patients. Secondly, though obesity is rampant in the U.S the actual market for the drug was smaller than what was projected. Also, the REMS restrictions provide very limited access to Qysmia and its cost is another hurdle. One more important factor is that physicians are actually waiting it out as safety concerns are always a biggie when it comes to obesity pharmacotherapy. Another important factor that cannot be overlooked is that that it also ends up costing insurers a very high amount. Bringing the costs of this medication down will automatically make it accessible to more people and help it gain approval from insurance companies, for payment.
Irrespective of whether it is one, a few or all these reasons, VVUS has discounted the Qsymia price two times since it was launched. Apart from this, post the concerns that were voiced and undercurrents of dissent that were felt from investors, the company board has embarked upon a search for marketing partners, but it seems like getting insurers to cover these drugs is the key to VIVUS, Inc (NASDAQ:VVUS) improving its sales figures.