The company behind the anti-obesity drug Qsymia, Vivus (VVUS) announced today that it has inked a deal with Express Scripts (ESRX) to include Qsymia within its portfolio of drugs available through mail order. The deal was of paramount importance to Vivus because Qsymia is only available through qualified mail order and not at brick and mortar pharmacies.
Express Scripts is the largest Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) in the United States, the market where Qsymia has been approved for sale. As a Qsymia Certified Home Delivery Pharmacy Network, Express Scripts can now participate in what is anticipated to be a big potential market in anti-obesity drugs.
While Qsymia was available through the mail order branches of CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens, the Express Scripts deal will help to widen the net of delivery methods, making it easier for patients to receive their prescriptions. By aligning with Express Scripts Vivus can remove some of the lingering doubt associated with sales and mail order delivery.
Vivus was able to get its anti-obesity drug to market ahead of Arena (ARNA) which is still awaiting classification scheduling from the DEA for its drug Belviq. Ironically, Arena's Belviq did receive FDA approval before Qsymia, but requirement for DEA scheduling has the market waiting for a Belviq launch.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that Vivus warned about its assumption that its anti-obesity drug would not gain approval in Europe and the stock tumbled. Shortly thereafter it appeared as though the stock had bottomed out in the 17s and was ripe for recovery. As it turns out, Vivus is currently trading in the $19s on the Express Scripts news.
Essentially, we are now going to experience Vivus news that correlates and ties to sales and marketing of Qsymia. As the months pass, we will gain an idea about, and an appreciation for the potential market of anti-obesity prescription medication. Stay Tuned!
Disclosure: I am long ARNA.
Additional disclosure: I have no position in Vivus.