Despite reports about obesity in America, consumers aren’t spending dollars to buy the new diet drug Qsymia since it came out in September, The New York Times reports
Whether it’s because of the lack of health insurance reimbursement, health and safety concerns, or past problems with diet drugs, Qsymia (pronounced Kyoo-sim-EE-ah) has had just $4.1 million in sales the first quarter of this year, the Times reported. Its manufacturer, Vivius, is spending big dollars — reportedly $45 million — to change that, but the shift is slow if at all.
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About two weeks ago, Reuters reported that a proxy war at the company
, led by its biggest shareholder, is causing additional pressure to get the diet drug selling.
Although it was the first prescription diet drug to go on sale in 13 years, according to the New York Times, competition increased when Belviq, a weight-loss drug from Arena Pharmaceuticals and Eisai, went on sale in June. Other drugs are in clinical trials.
Shares have dropped by half since Qsymia went to market and analysts are backing off on their predictions that the company would do well, Reuters reported.
Considering the media focus on how obese the American public is — one-third of people are considered obese in the U.S. — it seems surprising the drug didn’t sell. But the New York Times’ Andrew Pollack reported that no weight-loss prescription drug has ever reached annual sales of $1 billion, which is what the industry considers a “blockbuster.”
A Food and Drug Administration look at prescription data suggested that only one-fourth of people taking a weight-loss drug did so for at least three months, and only 10 percent made it 180 days, Pollack reported.
Slow weight loss may be partially to blame. Clinical trials found that people taking Qysmia lost about 7.8 percent of their weight at the end of a year. That translates, the New York Times reported, to a 250-pound person losing about 20 pounds.
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