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VIVUS' (VVUS) Qsymia Falters in a Highly Competitive Market

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VIVUS' (VVUS) Qsymia Falters in a Highly Competitive Market

VIVUS' (VVUS) Qsymia sales lackluster due to slow uptake of the drug and a competitive market.

On Aug 21, we issued an updated research report on VIVUS, Inc. VVUS. The company's portfolio comprises three drugs, Qsymia for chronic weight management, Stendra for erectile dysfunction ("ED") and recently acquired Pancreaze for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (“EPI”).

The company reported its quarterly earnings earlier this month. In the second quarter of 2018, VIVUS reported a loss of 12 cents, which was wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 11 cents. However, revenues were up almost a third from the year-ago period to $14.7 million.

Shares of VIVUS have fallen 29.1% in the past three months while the industry registered a gain of 4%.

Although the company remains focused on increasing Qsymia sales by expanding reimbursement and promotional initiatives including digital campaigns, sales of the drug declined 20.6% in the first half of 2018 compared with the year-ago period.

Moreover, Qsymia faces competition from several branded drugs including Novo Nordisk’s NVO Saxenda, Eisai’s Belviq and several non-branded drugs. Also, anti-obesity medications are excluded from Medicare as well as have low third-party insurance coverage, which restricts accessibility of the drug.

Another concern for the company is the declining trend of supply and royalty revenues from Stendra in the first half of 2018.

We note that the company’s pipeline candidate, VI-0106, a proprietary soft capsule formulation of tacrolimus, for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension is in phase I stage of development. The commercialization of the candidate is many years away and also depends on its successful development in all stages of studies.

The acquisition of Pancreaze from Johnson & Johnson JNJ in June has brought in additional revenues. However, the performance of the drug, which has been commercially available since early June, remains to be seen. Also, the acquisition has cost the company $135 million, a significant amount for the small biotech.

Earlier this month, the company appointed Ken Suh as its new president, following the appointment of a new chief executive officer, John Amos, in April. However, the impact of changes in senior leadership remains to be seen. Moreover, the company has restructured its debt, which is expected to bring down interest cost. This may boost the bottom line going forward.

VIVUS, Inc. Price


VIVUS, Inc. Price | VIVUS, Inc. Quote

Zacks Rank & Stock to Consider

VIVUS currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

BioSpecifics Technologies Corp BSTC is a better-ranked stock from the pharma space, sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

BioSpecifics’ earnings estimates increased from $20.9 to $2.28 for 2018 and from $2.13 to $2.38 for 2019 over the last 30 days. The company delivered a positive earnings surprise in three of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 11.37%. The company’s shares have increased 22.1% so far this year.

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