When it comes to diseases that kill, obesity probably doesn’t spring to mind ahead of a disease like cancer, but a closer look shows that obesity takes more lives than one might think. Since the expansive list of diseases and conditions that can accompany obesity, people should pay greater heed to the significant role it plays as a drain on the economy, and investors should be performing their due diligence on some companies entrenched in therapeutics that can make a difference in obesity and co-morbidities. Obesity has been pegged to deadly conditions, including, but not limited to, heart disease, stroke, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
The Weight-Loss Pill Solution
Americans need to lose weight to lower risks of an early death or chronic health problems that can be both debilitating and expensive to deal with. Sadly, even with health initiatives encouraging weight loss, the nation is not trimming down. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally approved weight-loss drugs again after 13 years of rejecting drug candidates because of fear of severe side effects, including death, associated with fat-busting drugs approved in the 1990s. In June, the FDA approved Arena Pharmaceutical’s (NASDAQ:ARNA) Belviq for obese adults, nearly two years after initially refusing to approve the drug. Three months later, the agency approved Qsymia, an anti-obesity drug manufactured by Vivus Inc. (NASDAQ:VVUS).
Sales of either drug are not impressing Wall Street, falling well short of expectations. Arena’s marketing partner Eisai Co. reported $4.8 million in Belviq sales during the third-quarter, which translated to about $2 million net for Arena. Analysts were expecting Arena’s revenue from sales in excess of $5 million. The good news for Belviq is that Eisai has committed to double its sales force for the drug to 400 representatives, while some reimbursement hurdles are being crossed and more health plans are providing coverage. Vivus is in a different position after a nasty proxy battle and management changes followed the company’s decision to go it alone in marketing Qsymia. Vivus (and its shareholders) put itself in this pickle, perhaps thinking that big pharma would come looking for a lucrative partnering opportunity upon FDA approval of Qsymia.