MOUNTAIN VIEW ( TheStreet) - Vivus (VVUS - Get Report) announced the commercial launch of its weight-loss pill Qsymia Monday, beating rival Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA - Get Report) to first reach the bulging waistbands of obese Americans.
Qsymia hits (mail order) pharmacy shelves at an opportune time, coming just as doctors who treat obesity are gathering in San Antonio later this week for the Obesity Society annual meeting. Both Vivus and Arena are expected to have a presence at the meeting but only Vivus will have a new weight-loss pill available for doctors to prescribe once they return home to their patients.
Arena and its marketing partner Eisai are expected to launch Belviq early next year.
Vivus previously announced pricing for Qsymia -- ranging from $4-6 per day depending on the dosage strength -- that was in line with investor expectations.Qsymia combines two drugs, phentermine and topiramate, that are available as generics for a combined price of around $1-3 per day. Will doctors choose to prescribe Qsymia to their obese patients or recommend the individual, generic components? Investors have been debating the question leading up to the drug's launch. "Feedback from doctors indicates that generic substitution is unlikely to be widespread given the associated liability of either prescribing or dispensing the generic components separately so long as the product