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VIVUS (VVUS) Q1 Loss Narrower but Qsymia Sales Decline

VIVUS Inc. VVUS reported a loss of 12 cents per share in the first quarter of 2016, narrower than the year-ago loss of 15 cents and the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 51 cents per share.

The company’s total revenues for the first quarter were $15.3 million, down 52.4% from the year-ago period.

Qsymia under Pressure

The company’s weight management drug Qsymia generated net product sales of $12.4 million, down 10.8% sequentially and 1.7% below the year-ago period. Qsymia prescriptions (approximately 116,000) declined 12.1% on a sequential basis.

VIVUS said that the branded obesity market in the U.S. continues to grow well below expectations reflecting factors like physician caution and reluctance to prescribe, experiences with prescribing other agents, reimbursement issues and lack of widespread consumer awareness.

The company said that first quarter 2016 was unusual for the anti-obesity market as it failed to bounce back after the holiday season. The company believes that recent reductions in promotional efforts within the category are responsible for the changes in market dynamics.

VIVUS said that it intends to take advantage of this by shifting prescribing more toward obesity specialists where brand share is strongest. The company will upgrade its Qsymia Patient Savings Offer (for driving brand trial and patient retention) later this quarter.

Meanwhile, Stendra supply revenue declined 82% from the year-ago period to $1.5 million. Stendra royalty revenues came in at $1.4 million.

In the reported quarter, research and development expenses were $1 million, down 63% year over year reflecting the timing of clinical projects to support Qsymia post marketing requirements and cost control initiatives. Selling, general and administrative expenses were down 42.8% to $15.1 million. The decline reflected cost-cutting initiatives and the refinement of marketing and promotional programs.

In Aug 2015, VIVUS cut its Qsymia sales force to 50 territories after announcing a corporate restructuring plan.

Our Take

Like its peers in the branded obesity segment, VIVUS continues to face challenges in the market which may make it difficult to drive Qsymia sales. Qsymia is also facing patent challenges. However, the company is working on driving Qsymia sales and believes that the long-term upside potential for branded obesity products remains substantial given the growing rate of obesity in adults. VIVUS has engaged a strategic advisor to help in the evaluation of alternatives for Stendra as well as its overall business strategy.

VIVUS is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock. ANI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ANIP, Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. ACOR and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ALNY are better-ranked stocks in the health care sector – while ANIP is a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stock, Acorda and Alnylam are Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stocks.

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