VIVUS, Inc. Sinks on Weak Diet-Drug Sales

Published: Nov 07, 2012

Vivus Inc. (VVUS), maker of the recently approved obesity drug Qsymia, sank the most in more than two years after the company reported a larger third-quarter loss than analysts expected and investors feared slow uptake of the medicine. Vivus dropped 21 percent to $11.82 at the close in New York for the biggest decline since July 2010. The shares of the Mountain View, California-based company have gained 21 percent this year. The company told investors today that some patients are abandoning prescriptions at the pharmacy on discovering they must pay a large portion of the cost out-of-pocket, Andrew Berens, senior health-care analyst with Bloomberg Industries, said in a telephone interview. Investors have also started to question the company’s strategy of targeting specialty doctors rather than primary-care physicians, who may be the most likely to prescribe the drug, he said. “The street expects the drug to be a blockbuster, but it looks like a very slow launch,” Berens said. Investors “are not sure their strategy makes any sense.” The net loss for the quarter widened to $40.4 million, or 40 cents a share, from $8.6 million, or 10 cents, a year earlier, the company said today in a statement. Analysts had expected a loss of 32 cents, the average of 13 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue was $41,000, the amount received from pharmacies that had delivered the drug to patients, Vivus said.

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