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Update on VIVUS' Qsymia

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VIVUS, Inc. (VVUS - Free Report) is highly dependent on Qsymia (proposed trade name in the EU: Qsiva) for growth. The drug was launched in the U.S. in Sep 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.

However, Qsymia has performed disappointingly since launch. Qsymia revenues in the second quarter of 2013 were $5.5 million compared with $4.1 million in the first quarter of 2013.

In order to boost Qsymia revenues, VIVUS is evaluating the drug for other indications including type II diabetes. Encouraging new data on Qsymia was published in an online edition of Diabetes Care. Data from the two-year SEQUEL study (n = 475) comparing Qsymia to placebo was analyzed by the publication. The study enrolled high-risk patents including overweight or obese patients with pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

A considerable reduction in progression to type II diabetes and significant weight loss were observed in patients receiving Qsymia. Annualized incidence rate of type II diabetes declined by 70.5% and 78.7% at two Qsymia treated dosages of 7.5mg/46mg and 15mg/92mg, respectively, when compared to placebo.

The diabetes market is very crowded with key players like Merck (MRK - Free Report) and Novo Nordisk (NVO - Free Report) among others.

VIVUS, a biopharmaceutical company, currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Biopharma companies that currently look attractive include Actelion Ltd. with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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