Obesity Pandemic Addressed By Collaboration Between American, Swiss, Japanese Companies
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The global obesity pandemic and the American obesity epidemic are about to get tackled by two new products which were recently approved by the FDA, namely Belviq and Qsymia. Belviq seems to have a much better safety profile than Vivus Inc.'s (NASDAQ: VVUS) Qsymia as evidenced by the fact that the FDA did not mandate a REMS program for Belviq. As for efficacy, Belviq's trials showed that the average completer's weight loss was 26 pounds or 8.2%. This strong efficacy data and excellent safety profile has made Belviq a much anticipated medication among many doctors and patients. Doctors may prefer Belviq over Qsymia also because
a) Belviq has excellent efficacy as stated above.
b) Belviq has a much better safety profile than Qsymia.
c) Belviq can be dispensed from any pharmacy but Qsymia is only available through mail-order.
d) Belviq is a novel agent and no generic versions exist nor will exist for years to come whereas Qsymia is a combination of two readily available generics at a much cheaper price, and even its time-release quality could be somewhat matched by timing of the consumption of the generic pills.
e) Belviq does not have a REMS program but Qsymia does. This means extra testing, overhead, paperwork, etc.
f) Given the history of weight-loss drugs, doctors would prefer the safer alternative
Belviq is the result of ten years of hard work and almost a billion dollars of expenditure by the American company, San Diego, California based Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA). Once Arena receives DEA classification, Belviq will soon be available to doctors and patients in the USA.
The sales marketing and distribution of Belviq is done by the American arm of the large Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai. Arena has had a long fruitful relationship with Eisai which is also responsible for marketing Belviq in all of North and South America. Eisai has had a long presence in South America and has already initiated obtaining regulatory approval in Mexico and Brazil, as well as Canada with more countries in the Americas to follow.
Arena has a subsidiary in Switzerland, Arena Pharmaceuticals GmbH located in city of Zofingen in State of Aargau which will provide world-wide supply of Belviq. The Swiss company has already over 70 employees and is getting ready to produce Belviq for delivery to Eisai upon completion of DEA scheduling.
Swiss press have been impressed by this venture and the global attention this Swiss company is receiving as it prepared to manufacture a potentially global blockbuster drug.
Neue Zürcher Zeitung, arguably the most prestigious of Swiss newspapers published an article in their widely read Sunday edition with the title "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug against obesity, which is produced in Zofingen. The revenue could be several billion dollars."
An excerpt from the article was published in 20-Minutes, a daily free journal published in multiple languages and distributed all over the country in the morning and evening and widely read by commuters (unlike in most of the US, most of the daily commuting in Switzerland is done by public transport).
The main newspaper of the State of Aargau, Aargauer Zeitung, also quoted NZZ including this quote: "Daniel Müller, CEO of Arena Switzerland will soon hire a dozen new employees in Zofingen."
Some Swiss job sites are already advertising for the open position in Zofingen.
"ROW" WILD CARD
While Eisai has the marketing rights to Belviq in the America's, Arena has yet to license the marketing rights for ROW (Rest of The World). There's much speculation in the financial community as to who that partner will be, will it also be Eisai? Will it be a larger player like Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer or will Arena outright get acquired by a large pharma before ROW and EU partnerships are in place?
Arena is in the process of obtaining approval in both EU and Switzerland.
Arena is presenting at a number of investor conferences this month including meeting investors in Europe.
I own shares of Arena. This is not an investment advice. Please do your own research. For more information about my interests and to join my spam free mailing list please visit www.rezamusic.com. The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.