Vivus, a go-it-alone marketer with flailing obesity drug Qsymia, is discovering the joys of buddying up.
Since bungling the launch of obesity drug Qsymia, Vivus has lost more than half its board, its CFO, two CEOs and 20 staffers. Now, the company's chief commercial officer is following his departed colleagues out the door.
After rolling out its weight-loss drug Qsymia solo, a move that spurred plenty of shareholder discontent, Vivus is taking marketing partnerships for erectile dysfunction drug Stendra seriously. Thursday, it announced a deal with Sanofi that covers licensing and commercialization in emerging markets.
More than two years after Orexigen began a forced march back through a $100 million Phase III study for its weight drug Contrave, the biotech is back with the news that it scored the positive interim results it needs for a return trip to the FDA. And the drug developer says it can look ahead to a potential approval as early as June, 2014.
Vivus says it's laying off 20 staffers to cut its losses as the obesity drug Qsymia continues to flounder. Launched last year, Qsymia brought in just $6.4 million for the third quarter, far from the lofty sales projected as the drug neared FDA approval. And with the drug still struggling for a market foothold, analysts worry that Vivus will have a hard time attracting a partner that can apply its marketing savvy to the job.
Analysts promised a battle of obesity drugs between Arena's Belviq and Vivus' Qsymia. But in marketing partner Eisai, Arena has a weapon Vivus lacks--and that weapon is about to get bigger. The Japanese company plans to add more than 200 sales reps to its army by December, doubling its size since the drug hit the market this June.
Vivus investors are still waiting for the company to nail down the marketing partner the company's leadership promised would help turn things around for weight-loss drug Qsymia. In the meantime, the company has inked a second marketing deal for erectile dysfunction drug Stendra.
Just as the dust was settling at Vivus, its new CEO, Tony Zook, has resigned for health reasons. Zook's sudden exit, effective today, follows his almost-as-sudden entrance as CEO in July after a bitter proxy war put rebel investors in charge.
According to a research note from analyst Michael Yee at RBC Capital Markets, total Qsymia prescriptions for the weight-loss drug are up 7% week-over-week to 10,019, with new prescriptions up 6% week-over-week to 8,133.
Vivus announced second-quarter losses much worse than anyone expected. It took the first public comments from incoming CEO Tony Zook to sustain hopes for a turnaround.