Vivus Jumps as FDA Allows Wider Sales of Obesity Drug

Vivus Inc. rose the most since March 6 after U.S. regulators said the drugmaker can sell its obesity pill Qsymia in more pharmacies than first allowed.

Vivus gained 5.6 percent to $11.78 at 4 p.m. New York time. The company had fallen by more than half since winning approval for the drug on July 17, as sales were slower than investors expected.

Qsymia, which the Food and Drug Administration restricted to sales through certain mail-order pharmacies, can now be offered through certified retail pharmacies as well, Mountain View, California-based Vivus said today in a statement. Vivus’s goal is to make Qsymia available in thousands of retailers over the next three months, President Peter Tam said in the statement.

The change “is a key accomplishment in removing a major barrier that has hindered the initial acceptance of Qsymia into everyday medical practice,” Tam said. “Retail access, along with ongoing improvements in reimbursement, will help to accelerate Qsymia awareness, trial and usage.”

Qsymia is a combination of the appetite suppressant phentermine and the antiseizure drug topiramate, both of which are available separately in generic form. Qsymia accounted for 2.5 percent of total obesity prescriptions as of April 5, compared with 87 percent for phentermine, Andrew Berens, an analyst with Bloomberg Industries, said yesterday in a report.