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Orexigen's (OREX) Contrave Sales Improving on Promotions

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On Sep 26, we issued an updated research report on La Jolla, CA based Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. OREX. Orexigen is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of obesity treatments.

Orexigen has a single approved and marketed product, Contrave, in its portfolio.

We remind investors that Orexigen had terminated its collaboration agreement with Takeda for commercializing its obesity drug, Contrave, in the United States in March 2016 and started selling the drug itself. Contrave sales significantly improved due to booking of product sales in the United States instead of royalties paid by Takeda on Contrave sales in the year-ago period. |The number of prescriptions written for Contrave rose 12% year over year in the first half. Also, net revenue per unit increased 37%. Low rates of penetration and awareness and the lack of safe and effective treatment options make the obesity market highly lucrative.

However, the increase in revenues was offset by costs associated with commercializing the drug.

Management has taken several steps to drive Contrave’s sales including speaker programs and patient starter kits and new promotional materials and educational resources for health care practitioners. Moreover, the company came up with a new patient-focused campaign with direct-to-consumer advertising. The company is also collaborating with regional partners in Europe for expansion.

However, Orexigen is a late entrant in the already crowded obesity market. Other options available in the market for obese people include VIVUS, Inc.’s VVUS Qsymia, Novo Nordisk’s NVO Saxenda and Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s ARNA Belviq.

Moreover, the absence of any late stage pipeline candidate is concerning. If Contrave disappoints, the company has little to fall back on. Execution risks remain even though Orexigen continues to work on growing Contrave sales in the United States.

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