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Contrave Sales Continue To Impress

Spencer Osborne profile picture
Spencer Osborne


  • Contrave has eclipsed the 5,000 script mark.
  • Launch trajectory is most impressive yet.
  • It is still to early to assess refill data.

Contrave, the anti-obesity drug from Orexigen (NASDAQ:OREX) saw weekly sales come in at just above 5,400 this past week. The drug has been on the market for 8 weeks now, and after a slow start due to technical issues, the last few weeks have been nothing short of impressive. In fact, the early launch of Contrave is presenting a trajectory that Arena (ARNA) and Vivus (VVUS) investors had hoped to see but fell short of. Prior to the Contrave launch, Arena's Belviq had set the bar.

What is it about Contrave that has the early numbers looking so impressive? In my opinion the price point is playing a major role. At this stage the trajectories of the competitors have not really degraded, but if you are invested in any drug in this sector, monitoring the overall sector is critical. It appears that the 900 sales reps dedicated to Contrave have actually helped to broaden the market. Certainly it is early, but there is no denying how impressive the last few weeks have been.

For perspective, I will compare the Belviq launch to the Contrave launch. In order to be realistic, we must realize that the trial blazed by competitors prior to Contrave entering the space made Contrave's parth a bit easier. This is why I had projected that a three month tally of Contrave sales needed to be near 50,000 as opposed to the 33,000 that Belviq had delivered. At this point, eight weeks into the launch, Contrave sales are at about 18,000. That would imply that sales over the next 4 weeks need to be 32,000 to meet my goals (8,000 per week for the next 4 weeks). Certainly the Thanksgiving Holiday and Christmas holiday will impact the ability to reach what I considered good, but it seems apparent that Contrave will easily pass the Belviq launch. Realistically, the sales figures at

This article was written by

Spencer Osborne profile picture
Spencer Osborne assesses equities in a data supported realistic manner that is often missing in analysis that the average retail investor receives. His analysis is what investors NEED to hear rather than what they WANT to hear. He believes that the foundation of an equity price is based on what is probable rather than what is possible, and the trade focuses on possible near term catalysts and news. Smart investing is understanding how the market works and how that market mentality impacts a given equity. Spencer believes that investors should model their expectations and maintain a critical eye on whether those expectations are being met. If an invesor finds herself making excuses for missing the mark, then they are losing objectivity.

Analyst’s Disclosure: The author is long ARNA. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

I have no position in Orexigen or Vivus

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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Comments (15)

9-11 disclosure project YT FB profile picture
Spencer is 12/19 the EU decision date? Thanks
Spencer Osborne profile picture

Contrave is on the agenda. If they are making the decision this month, tomorrow would be the day. That is what is anticipated.
9-11 disclosure project YT FB profile picture
Orexigen's Mysimba™ (naltrexone HCl / bupropion HCl prolonged release) Receives Positive CHMP Opinion Recommending Approval...


Is this it?
Spencer Osborne profile picture

That was the tough step. Now the European Committee needs to put on its stamp of approval (somewhat of a formality). That is expected in early 2015. I have an article submitted....should be out soon
jakes101 profile picture

One week ago you said Contrave was doing just "okay" and now you are "most impressed?" What changed, was it the new script data coming in? Let's not get too excited, the truth is in the refill puddin. Let's not call them the Ritz yet, I like a mint on my pillow too, but they simply went from a motel 6 to a Holiday Inn.

I would have to agree with you that the price point of C is very sexy. I don't put too much stock that they had 900 sales reps running around, it helps somewhat, but what good does that do if people can't afford it. It's all about the price.

Contrave Euro date tomorrow?
Spencer Osborne profile picture

With the snafu at the launch, there were "pent up" scripts. I expected good numbers for a couple of weeks. What we see this week is that the demand for Contrave is real.

The Contrave launch trajectory is the most impressive to date....even with their early snafu.

For Contrave to be at 47% of Belviq after Contrave is on the market for 8 weeks and Belviq having been on the market for 78 weeks is impressive. It is still too early to assess the refill market on Contrave. If the drug is not being refilled, the impressive launch wont matter.

As for price....Contrave is priced between $45 and $70. That is alot cheaper than the competition.
So no more seasonality of diet pills rationale please. The 3 products combined is up.
Spencer Osborne profile picture

Contrave is not doing samples at this point. They went with low price point.

129 refills is about right if you look at how prescriptions work.....A script lasts a month The first 3 weeks of sales were very modest.

There is no celebration. They are on the pace that I expected they would need to be on
contrave also had give aways and 129 refills? seems like this celebration is a bit premature
vitosoranno1 profile picture

Hi Spencer,

Please shed some light on readers' confusion with what has been stated.

Your article speaks to the fact that Contrave has the advantage of being a less costly drug than both Belviq and Qsymia. You describe Contrave's cost as being $75 vs. $200 for Belviq.

Your post above describes the Contrave dosage as: "1 pill a day for a week, then two pills a day for a week, then three pills a day for a week, then 4 pills a day going forward." If the one pill per day dosage costs $75, then the four pill daily dosage will cost $300 - or $100 more than Belviq.

Please clarify. Thanks.

Spencer Osborne profile picture

I am sorry that the comment was confusing to you.

For Contrave.....

Those without insurance will pay $70 for month one, $70 for month two, then $60 every month thereafter

Those with insurance will pay $55, $55, then $45 thereafter.

Belviq costs about $225 without insurance. A $75 coupon will bring cost down to $150 or so. If someone has insurance, they my pay about $100. There are a few insurers that will bring the cost down to less than $100....but that number is quite low.

Simply stated, Contrave is SUBSTANTIALLY cheaper than its competition.
Spencer Osborne profile picture

I am already getting questions about refills. It is very early yet, and we need to bear in mind that the first three weeks of the Contrave launch were hampered by a technical issue. Bottom line....assessing refill data on what is essentially 5 weeks of sales (the first three weeks were modest) is not very easy. We can not really draw refill conclusions for a couple of more weeks yet.


People ease onto Contrave. 1 pill a day for a week, then two pills a day for a week, then three pills a day for a week, then 4 pills a day going forward. I am not sure how the bottles work, but if a bottle comes with 120 pills, then it would take longer than a month to go through them. This is a point of clarity that I will explore. The dose up method has 70 pills in 4 weeks. 98 pills in 5 weeks, or 126 pills in 6 weeks.
No sustained release pills yet?
vitosoranno1 profile picture

Hi Spencer,

Good article!

You state: "Contrave is priced much lower than its competition. That means that it takes more sales to get to the same type of revenue."

Is there any data that indicates the net profit margins per sale realized by Arena, Vivus and Orexigen for Belviq, Qsymia and Contrave?

If Arena and Vivus lowered the price of their drugs to be the same as Contrave would they have the same net profit margin as Orexigen?

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