Eisai, Arena's obesity drug Belviq to launch in US on June 11

Eisai and Arena Pharmaceuticals announced Friday that the obesity therapy Belviq (lorcaserin) will be available to eligible patients by prescription in the US starting on June 11. Belviq was approved by the FDA in June last year, but the Drug Enforcement Agency only issued a ruling last month classing it as a Schedule IV drug.

Specifically, the drug is approved for use in obese adults with a body mass index of 30 or greater, or overweight adults with a BMI of 27 or greater who have at least one weight-related condition, such as hypertension, dyslipidaemia or type 2 diabetes. Eisai's chief medical officer Gary Palmer noted that the wholesale cost of a month's supply of Belviq to pharmacies is just under $200, adding "we are looking at a whole range of options for patients who don't have insurance and need financial support for the medication."

Arena will manufacture and supply the finished commercial product from its facility in Switzerland, with Eisai marketing and distributing the drug in the US. Eisai has also filed for approval of Belviq in Mexico, and plans to submit further regulatory applications in Canada and Brazil this year. Arena also has a marketing and supply agreement for the weight-loss therapy in South Korea with Ildong Pharmaceutical, which plans to submit an application for approval in that territory around the end of this year.

After reporting lower-than-expected first-quarter sales of Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate), Vivus in May announced that it is holding talks with potential partners to increase commercialisation of the weight-loss therapy. Although sales of the drug more than doubled over last year’s fourth quarter to $4.1 million, they fell short of the $5.2 million anticipated by analysts.

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