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VIVUS Appoints New CEO

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VIVUS, Inc. (VVUS - Free Report) recently appointed Anthony Zook as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Previously Zook served as a President in AstraZeneca’s (AZN - Free Report) Medimmune. He was also the Executive Vice President, Global Commercial Operations at AstraZeneca. Meanwhile, VIVUS also announced the appointment of Michael Astrue as its Chairman. Investors reacted positively to the news.

The new CEO has his work cut out for him. The company’s lead product, Qsymia, has performed disappointingly since launch in Sep 2012. Qsymia revenues in the first quarter of 2013 were only $4.1 million.

Qsymia was approved as an adjunct to a healthy, low-calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management in obese (Body Mass Index, or BMI, >30) or overweight (BMI >27) adults suffering from weight-related co-morbidities such as hypertension, type II diabetes mellitus, or dyslipidemia. He has to ensure that Qsymia sales pick up in the coming quarters.

We remind investors that apart from Qsymia, another weight-loss drug, Belviq, from Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ARNA - Free Report) received approval in the US last year. Belviq was launched in the US last month. Several companies are developing candidates targeting the lucrative obesity market.

VIVUS was in the news recently when it entered into a license and commercialization in addition to a supply agreement for its erectile dysfunction (ED) drug, Spedra, with privately-held Italian pharmaceutical company, Menarini. As per the terms of the agreement, Menarini will get the rights to Spedra in more than 40 European countries, apart from Australia and New Zealand.

However, VIVUS is still looking for a partner in the US to market the drug. We note that the drug, under the trade name Stendra, was approved in the US in April last year for ED.

VIVUS, a biopharmaceutical company, carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Biopharma stocks that currently look attractive include companies like Cadence Pharmaceuticals Inc. , carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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