Slow Build for New Obesity Drug (Good News)

November 13, 2012 — The first quarter in which new obesity drug, Qsymia, has been available ended October 31, and sales, unsurprisingly, are nowhere near the eventual level expected. Quarterly earnings report for Vivus, parent of Qsymia, shows that the first six weeks of the drug’s availability translated into about 3,500 patients receiving prescriptions.

Since 2,600 physicians have prescribed the drug, that’s less than two prescriptions per doctor. Motley Fool, which reported the story, points out that since 80% of prescriptions aren’t covered by insurance, most patients are paying the full $160 monthly price, and even those with insurance are paying an average $62 co-pay. Motley Fool estimates that 30% of patients abandon their prescriptions for Qsymia because of high out of pocket costs. Nonetheless, They expect the numbers to rise as Vivus reaches more of the 25,000 targeted docs, the restriction on where the drug can be sold eases, and word of mouth builds among patients. 

The history of prior launches of obesity treatments reveals a landscape littered with options that did not live up to excessive hype. They were marketed as weight loss miracles, rather than serious treatments for a serious condition. Vivus appears to be taking a different course, one that may facilitate realistic expectations and a sustainable position in the marketplace. That’s a good thing.

You can read the Motley Fool story here.