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VIVUS Gets a New CEO

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VIVUS, Inc. (VVUS - Free Report) recently announced that Anthony Zook, who was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company in Jul 2013 has resigned due to health concerns. Investors have reacted negatively to the news.

VIVUS appointed Seth H. Z. Fischer as its CEO effective immediately. He will also join the VIVUS Board of Directors. Previously, Fischer served as a senior executive at Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Free Report) .

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 second quarter of 2013 were $5.5 million as compared to $4.1 million recorded in the first quarter of 2013.

We remind investors that Qsymia was launched in the U.S. in Sep 2012. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared Qsymia in Jul 2012 as an adjunct to a healthy diet (low on calories) and increased physical activity for chronic weight management in obese (Body Mass Index, or BMI - 30 or more) or overweight (BMI - 27 or more) adults suffering from at least one weight-related co-morbid condition.

On Apr 16, 2013, the FDA approved an amendment and modification to the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) of Qsymia. As per the modification to the REMS, Qsymia can now be distributed through certified retail pharmacies apart from the existing certified mail-order pharmacy network. The company announced retail availability on Jul 1, 2013.

We remind investors that apart from Qsymia, another weight-loss drug, Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s (ARNA - Free Report) Belviq, received approval in the U.S. last year. Belviq was launched in the U.S. in Jun 2013.

Apart from Qsymia, VIVUS’ portfolio consists of another approved product, Stendra, for erectile dysfunction (ED), which received approval in the U.S. in Apr 2012 and in the EU in Jun 2013. The company is looking for a partner in the U.S.

VIVUS, a biopharmaceutical company, currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Biopharma companies that currently look attractive include Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ - Free Report) with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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