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Vivus Jumps on Aetna Qsymia Ruling: San Francisco Mover

November 21, 2012

Vivus Inc. (VVUS:US), maker of the Qsymia weight-loss medicine that won U.S. approval in July, jumped the most in nine months after insurer Aetna Inc. (AET:US) cleared the way for coverage of the obesity treatment.

Vivus rose 13 percent to $11.73 at the close of trading in New York, for the Mountain View, California-based company’s biggest single-day gain since Feb. 24, after Aetna said on its website that Qsymia is “medically necessary.”

Qsymia this year joined Belviq, made by Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ARNA:US) and Eisai Co. (4523), as the first new obesity medicines approved for the U.S. market since 1999. Aetna said both drugs can be considered necessary, while coverage will depend on a patient’s particular medical plan.

While diet drugs often produce only temporary benefits, people who can’t lose weight through other methods may still need the medications, the insurer said in a bulletin on its website. “For these persons, the risk of physical dependence or other adverse effects may present less of a risk than continued obesity.”

Arena, based in San Diego, rose 3 percent to $9.20.

Aetna, the third-biggest health insurer by membership, is based in Hartford, Connecticut.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Nussbaum in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at

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