Shares of Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc.(NASDAQ:ARNA) and VIVUS, Inc.(NASDAQ:VVUS) shot up on Wednesday after Aetna Inc.(NYSE:AET) declared that it would offer medical benefit coverage for the respective prescription weight-loss medicines manufactured by companies.
The third largest insurer of the nation has issued a policy bulletin update on Tuesday that had Arena’s Belviq and Vivus’ Qsymia were added to a list that had names of medically important weight loss reduction pills.
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Coverage decision made by Aetna could provide a financial incentive for patients suffering from obesity to try weight-loss pills. It is for this reason that shares of Vivus has increased 12.85% to $11.68 after hitting session high of $12.59;. shares of Arena has rose 3% to $9.19 at mid day session.
Nearly 30% of patients, who have been prescribed Qsymia, have chosen not to pick up their prescription owing to the excessive cost. The high rate of prescription abandonment has been quoted as executives of Vivus as one of the possible reasons behind the second-rate commercial release of the weight loss pill.
Vivus has mentioned that about 20% of patients were getting insurance settlement coverage for Qsymia along with an average co-pay of $60 each month. Aetna’s decision to include Arena’s Belviq and Qsymia is an important addition.
Aetna’s coverage of Belviq and Qsymia is not a pharmacy benefit but a medical benefit. It also comes with other restrictions. The medicines will be considered medically essential only for members, who do not succeed in losing at least 1 pound each week after a span of minimum 6 months on a weigh loss plan that includes exercise and diet. Members also need to have a body mass index greater than 30 or 27 along with other risk factors.
The insurer has mentioned in a bulletin on its website that while diet drugs result in only temporary benefits, people unable to lose weight through other ways may still require the medications.
Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc.(NASDAQ:OREX) rose 8.72% as well and trading near to session high of $4.74 now. Shares of AET are up 1.50%.