Sunday, November 03, 2013

Managing Weight-Loss Expectations at Arena Pharmaceuticals

The current market potential for Arena Pharmaceuticals’ (ARNA-$4.39) weight-loss drug Belviq here in the U.S. is approximately $1.0 billion – or about $315 million net to Arena.

Such bullish estimates, however, assume two variables not within current reach: (1) Add-on therapy for phentermine; and (2) broad reimbursement coverage by commercial and Medicare plans.

In a recent press release, Arena boasted that “Belviq is now covered by several prominent health plans and PBMs, including, among others, Express Scripts (including its legacy Express Scripts and Medco operations), Tufts, Health Alliance Plan, Excellus BCBS, Highmark BCBS, BCBS of Michigan, and BCBS of North Carolina and Healthnet (California).”

Jack Lief, co-founder and CEO of Arena, told analysts on the second-quarter conference call, too, that “as much as 50% [of insurance plans]” would likely reimburse for Belviq prescriptions by April 2014. Recent channel checks suggest that this statement is inaccurate at best, misleading at worst.

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy.  

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