Vivus Quietly Notes In 8-k That Qsymia Is Now Commercially Available

Vivus (NASDAQ:VVUS) released Monday morning that Qsymia is now commercially available as an aid for weight loss. VVUS had guided for a 4Q 2012 launch of the drug, so the news comes a bit earlier than expected. Pricing for the product was established last week; the two doses expected to be most commonly used are priced at $135.62 per month (mid dose) and at $183.90 per month (high dose). The company’s announcement of Qsymia’s availability is oddly quiet with no press release this morning thus far, just an 8-k. One reason could be that topiramate is one of the two active components comprising Qsymia, and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) has a patent on the use of topiramate for weight loss (U.S. Patent No. 6,071,537). No agreement between VVUS and JNJ exists for the licensure of the topiramate weight loss patent, so if JNJ believes the sale of Qsymia infringes its patent, a lawsuit could be announced. Assuming VVUS is able to provoke JNJ into filing a lawsuit and then is able to license the patent from JNJ, this could be viewed as a positive for VVUS shares. However, given the uncertainty of this issue, investors are likely to remain on the sidelines and focus on the drug’s launch ramp before bidding up the stock. Expect VVUS shares to lift slightly today on the news that Qsymia is the first of a new set of diet drugs to enter the market.