Vivus Inc. (VVUS), maker of the Qsymia weight-loss medicine that won U.S. approval in July, jumped the most in nine months after insurer Aetna Inc. (AET) cleared the way for coverage of the obesity treatment.
Vivus rose 13 percent to $11.73 at the close of trading in New York, for the Mountain View, California-based company’s biggest single-day gain since Feb. 24, after Aetna said on its website that Qsymia is “medically necessary.”
Qsymia this year joined Belviq, made by Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ARNA) and Eisai Co. (4523), as the first new obesity medicines approved for the U.S. market since 1999. Aetna said both drugs can be considered necessary, while coverage will depend on a patient’s particular medical plan.
While diet drugs often produce only temporary benefits, people who can’t lose weight through other methods may still need the medications, the insurer said in a bulletin on its website. “For these persons, the risk of physical dependence or other adverse effects may present less of a risk than continued obesity.”
Arena, based in San Diego, rose 3 percent to $9.20.
Aetna, the third-biggest health insurer by membership, is based in Hartford, Connecticut.
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