Activist investor Carl Icahn is jumping into the biopharma fray once again, this time getting involved with struggling obesity drugmaker Vivus.
Presumably hands were shaken and lawyers and executives read the fine print, putting a collaboration on anti-obesity drug Contrave between Japan's Takeda Pharmaceuticals and San Diego-based Orexigen Therapeutics back on track after a tussle broke out in May over the termination of a trial that opened up other issues in the partnership.
With a trio of new obesity meds on the scene, some industry watchers expected the market to see some serious expansion. But development has been slow--much slower than Qsymia maker Vivus expected--and halving its rep tally is just one step the drugmaker is taking to help ease the pain.
Struggling Vivus is short on cash, and it's got a pricey cardiovascular outcomes trial looming in its future. Its fix? Pare down costs once again--or, in the words of RBC Capital Markets analyst Simos Simeonidis, "amputate a limb so that the patient may live."
An analysis by AdverseEvents shows the new generation of obesity meds are holding their own, safety-wise. Still, postmarketing data flag some serious cardiovascular and neuropsychiatric side effects that are worth monitoring, the healthcare informatics firm says.
Dieting and exercise to lose weight is more effective when done with support--and weight-loss drugmakers have taken that to heart in marketing their treatments. But according to a recent Journal of Public Policy & Marketing article, lifestyle support isn't enough. Drugmakers may want to look to their advertising pitches, too.
Not satisfied with the way its new purchase Auxilium had handled Stendra marketing, Endo plans to relaunch the erectile dysfunction med, which it sells in partnership with Vivus. Endo is doubling the size of the Stendra salesforce, rolling out a new DTC effort, and keeping a close eye on inventory levels, which had built up too much for its taste.
Upon buying up Auxilium--which markets Vivus' erectile dysfunction drug Stendra--Endo decided wholesale inventory levels weren't where they ought to be. Its solution? A relaunch of the drug, complete with a new salesforce and DTC efforts.
No drugmaker wants a generic challenger for a product it relies on--and certainly not two generics challengers. But in the case of Vivus, which has sued Actavis and now Teva over patent infringement for weight-loss drug Qsymia, the generic interest could be an "incremental positive," one analyst believes.
Critics say Vivus has lacked the marketing muscle to build up its weight-loss med Qsymia ever since it chose to launch without a large commercial partner. And now, the company has chosen to shrink its salesforce by a third, with about 50 reps headed for the door.