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Update on Arena/Eisai's Belviq

Zacks Equity Research

Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ARNA) recently provided an update on partner Eisai Inc.'s marketing activities in the U.S. pertaining to their obesity drug Belviq. We note that the drug is marketed in the U.S. by Eisai. Belviq is available in U.S. pharmacies since Jun 2013.

Arena stated in its press release that the launch campaign on Belviq has reached the consumer phase.  Consequently, advertisements are being placed in U.S. magazines to educate consumers about the utility of the drug for weight loss as well as weight maintenance. Moreover, Eisai has also started a program (Believe Everyday Support) for consumers on Belviq. Arena hopes that increased consumer awareness will help Belviq sales gain momentum.

Arena’s growth is highly dependant on Belviq, the company’s sole marketed product. The obesity market offers significant commercial potential. Consequently, Arena/Eisai are leaving no stone unturned to make the drug a success.

Approval for Belviq is also being sought in other countries including Canada and Mexico. The approval process for Belviq in the EU has run into rough waters with the company withdrawing its Marketing Authorization Application for Belviq in the EU. The European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use believes that the results of nonclinical studies were not sufficient for the drug’s approval. Arena intends to submit the application at a later date.

Currently, approved therapies for obesity include VIVUS Inc.’s (VVUS) Qsymia, which was launched in Sep 2012. Qsymia’s sales are yet to pick up. Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. (OREX) is also developing a candidate, Contrave, targeting the lucrative obesity market.

Arena Pharma, a biopharmaceutical stock, currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, biopharma stocks like Actelion Ltd. (ALIOF) look well positioned with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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