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Orexigen Therapeutics

Vivus's Free Promotion Lifts Prescriptions for Diet Drug

Vivus Inc. (VVUS) reported a 67% increase in prescriptions for the weight-loss drug Qsymia, helped by a promotion that began in November to give patients the first two weeks of their prescriptions for free.The jump in prescriptions may not translate into higher revenues, depending on how much was driven by the free promotion, but it is a sign that more consumers are experimenting with the drug and could become repeat customers.The company said in a regulatory filing Monday that 12,978 prescriptions were shipped to patients over a four-week period ended Dec. 21, up from 7,749 the previous month. The announcement sent Vivus shares up as much as 13% to $15.54, a two-month high.Vivus has been under pressure from investors since it launched the drug in September as early sales disappointed and rivals moved closer to launching competing therapies. Vivus faces multiple challenges, including FDA restrictions on its distribution and a lack of insurer reimbursement.The promotion program blunts t...

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