Friday At The Fat Fight

I end the week as I started it: blogging about Vivus and the three-contestant race to make a new prescription diet pill.

On Monday I was reporting and bloggingfrom the Obesity Society meeting in Washington, DC where I highlighted all three players—Vivus, Arena Pharmaceuticals and Orexigen Therapeutics.

ARNA and OREX put out press releases on the new data they presented at the conference. Vivus didn't. In fact, we were told by a company spokesperson there was nothing new.

Then, on Tuesday Cowen and Company biotech analyst Ian Sanderson wrote a research note for clients raising a red flag about a piece of VVUS' presentation. The stock fell. The conference ended Wednesday. Everyone went home.


For scientific and medical meetings like this one companies typically issue curtain-raiser press releases in advance of the event. In other words, they tell everyone, "Here's what we're gonna have new for you at thus-and-such meeting."

Then, as soon as the data are presented and the media embargo lifts companies immediately put out another press release with the new stuff they promised.

Not Vivus.

It waited five days after unveiling its data and one day after the meeting had ended to get around to putting out a press release after the closing bellon Thursday. The stock popped in after-hours trading and it's higher so far today, so maybe the company accomplished what it set out to do. But I can't imagine any media outlet that's been closely following the fat fight doing anything with the information.

All three companies are close to filing for FDA approval of their drugs and are on the prowl for big corporate partners.

If what went down this week is any indication this is gonna be a battle of the bulge royale.

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