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Vivus' weighting game

Vivus: Market fit, out-of-pocket pay, REMS controls slow Qsymia obesity sales

Early sales for Qsymia disappointed investors last week, but Vivus Inc. said the obesity drug's launch reflects the realities of creating a market.

The company said it anticipated those realities and expects sales to pick up over the next six months as physicians begin to see Qsymia's efficacy and as the biotech brings payers on board and rolls out a program to offset out-of-pocket costs.

Vivus launched Qsymia in the U.S. on Sept. 17. With more than one third of Americans considered obese and two thirds classified as obese or overweight, investors had high hopes for early sales of Qsymia, the first weight loss drug launched in more than a decade.

Indeed, the Street estimated sales for the first two weeks at about $310,000. But in the company's 3Q12 earnings, Vivus reported Qsymia sales of just $44,000, which represented 656 prescriptions shipped to patients during the first two weeks.

Vivus has shipped an additional 4,904 prescriptions since the end of 3Q12 for a total of

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