Qsymia Scripts Rise with Increased Reimbursement

Vivus, the company that developed Qsymia, recently announced that Qsymia prescriptions had risen 68% to 12,978 in the four-week period ending December 22. Investors greeted this news with enthusiasm, immediately driving the Vivus stock price 10% higher.

Vivus has been under pressure since the late September Qsymia launch for underperforming versus tough Wall Street expectations. Vivus is taking a more challenging, long-term view in marketing Qsymia, avoiding the kind of hype that can bring short-term gains, misuse, and an eventual crash that has played out over and over again for new obesity treatments. Focusing on a relatively few physicians who actually treat obesity, Qsymia entered the market with a tough risk-management program to guard against misuse. While this strategy may prove successful in the long term, it makes for nervous investors.

According to Vivus, the increase in scripts is a result of more insurance companies providing coverage for Qsymia, as well as a two-week trial offer for new patients. With insurance coverage and the free trial program, the cost of Qsymia has been lowered to about $150 per month, which compares to $50-$60 per month for over-the-counter Alli, the only other FDA-approved obesity treatment. The launch of Qsymia’s recently approved competitor in the obesity prescription drug world, Belviq, is expected to come in March.

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Qsymia is a registered trademark of Vivus.