Merck’s Sales Tumble and Pfizer’s Zoetis Goes Public: Healthcare Recap

Shares of Vivus, Zoetis, and Merck were all on the move Friday.

Vivus (NASDAQ:VVUS): Closing Price $12.43

Shares of Vivus received a boost on Friday after a report published in The American Journal of Cardiology showed that the pharmaceutical company’s weight-loss treatment Qsymia significantly improved cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and blood pressure in obese and overweight patients.

The company’s stock price has dropped steeply since the drug was released at the end of September, as its sales have been underwhelming. Wall Street expected Vivus’s newly launched weight-loss treatment Qsymia to be a success; the drug was the second obesity medicine to receive regulatory approval by the Food and Drug Administration and the first to reach the market in more than ten years. But as many insurers have failed to cover the drug, its prohibitive cost has kept sales low. As a result, analyst downgrades have rained down on the company recently, and large shareholders have even called for its sale.

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But with far greater medical applications now proven, investors have been given a small degree of assurance that Qsymia sales will improve, and more insurers will cover the treatment. Shares rose 6.8 percent in premarket trading, and at the close, the stock was up close to 3 percent.