“Weight loss drugs will be an ideal DTC category.”
Finally FDA has approved Vivus obesity drug Qsymia, formerly known as Qnexa. FDA required the name change to avoid confusion with other drugs. This drug will be a blockbuster for obvious reasons. Americans have shown no success in losing and keeping weight off. In fact, on average, we are fatter by 20 pounds compared to 1960. Recent studies have shown belly fat is outright dangerous since it causes
systemic inflammation linked to serious heart disease and cancer. We need a slimmer America and not just to look good in a bathing suit. We need it to keep from going broke. Obese people are expensive. Big may be beautiful to some but unhealthy and costly to all the rest of us.
Qsymia is a good drug, and can cause a 10% reduction in body weight. While physicians will be careful with any weight loss drug after the Fen-Phen problems of the 1980’s, this will be a huge drug. I am sure Vivus will start slow and give this drug a chance to earn a good reputation. It will be careful about doing DTC in the early stages so not to be accused of creating demand among the slightly overweight. It will be used at first for the morbidly obese but over time demand will grow among those that do want to look
good in their bathing suit.
Obviously, weight loss drugs will be an ideal DTC category. It is a simple concept to get across and is a huge market. Given there are now two approved weight loss drugs and a third likely soon, the category will be highly competitive. Also, Rx obesity drugs compete with every supplement and OTC product. Over time, Rx obesity will be a $200 million plus spending category.
I know all the anti-drug critics will bemoan the need for a pill. They want natural solutions to focus on diet and exercise. I would like to see that too. The reality of American behavior must lead to a conclusion that gluttony trumps exercise. Given the choice between failure to make a dent in the obesity epidemic and relying on a pill, I choose the latter. Yes, some people will have side effects and the media will make a big deal out of it. Here is a case where we know obesity must be treated and we need to risk some potential for harm for the greater good.
The FDA, by approving these drugs will also incent many drug companies to find better pills for obesity. Every drug company is looking for mass market drugs to launch. In five years, who knows what might be discovered that can prevent obesity? The key is FDA has given a reason for hundreds of drug discovery companies to risk capital on this category.
Good luck Vivus and Arena in building successful brands.
Bob Ehrlich, Chairman
DTC Perspectives, Inc.