Vivus Press Release: Company Lands a Partner!

by bobbydiggs

On Tuesday, Vivus announced that it has partnered with Aetna to offer some of Aetna’s 22 million members access to its obesity drug Qsymia. It’s a nice press release, especially for a company seeking any kind of a “partnership” news during this week’s busy JP Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Here are some highlights from the Vivus press release:

  • Vivus announced that it has joined with Aetna (AET) to integrate Qsymia (phentermine and topiramate extended-release) capsules CIV into a pilot program designed to evaluate the benefits of prescription medication combined with lifestyle support for weight loss.
  • The program is the first of its kind involving Qsymia and a health care benefits provider.

Both true statements.

However, a quick read of the corresponding Aetna press release shows Aetna’s relationship with Vivus is not exclusive. Instead, Aetna is encouraging its 22 million members who are overweight to adopt weight loss programs that include, among other things, the use of prescription medications. That’s “medications” plural.

From the Aetna press release:

 Building from the clinical evidence, Aetna is collaborating with Eisai and VIVUS to offer a pilot program to self-insured plan sponsors…To support weight loss and positive lifestyle changes, members who qualify and begin treatment with BELVIQ or Qsymia receive free premium membership to the mobile app “Lose It!” by signing up through Aetna Navigator® and CarePass.

Vivus’ PR folks, The Trout Group, deserve some credit here. They were able to spin this into a “Vivus story”, while also getting the AP to convey a clear Vivus bias in its story.  Based on the news, Vivus shares rose 34 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $9.37 in premarket trading and closed up 4.8% at $9.46 with nearly 2.5x average volume.

I guess when a company is looking for any kind of third-party validation, it pays to be proactive – even though it’s important to note that Aetna generally doesn’t review patents as part of its partnership diligence.