Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
) fell 6.3% after the company reported a net loss per share of 12
cents in the first quarter of 2014, missing the Zacks Consensus
Estimate of earnings of 10 cents. Arena had incurred a narrower
loss of 9 cents in the year-ago quarter.
Arena Pharma recorded first quarter revenues of $2.9 million
benefiting from revenues recorded for its obesity drug, Belviq.
However, revenues were way below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $8
million. The company did not recognize any revenues in the first
quarter of 2013.
First quarter 2014 research and development (R&D) and general
and administrative (G&A) expenses were up 49.8% to $21.0
million and 10.8% to $8.0 million, respectively.
Arena Pharma recorded Belviq sales of $2.9 million (including $0.2
million from the 15-day free trial voucher redemption). Arena
Pharma is working on expanding the market reach of Belviq. The
company is collaborating with
Eisai Co., Ltd.
) for the drug.
Eisai recorded net product sales of $8.4 million for Belviq in the
first quarter of 2014. Total prescriptions for Belviq increased 31%
from the preceding quarter to approximately 77,000.
Arena Pharma and Eisai are leaving no stone unturned to make the
drug a success. Eisai plans to add 200 representatives to the
existing sales force of approximately 400 for Belviq. Meanwhile,
Eisai estimates that Belviq coverage in the U.S. has improved. The
company estimates that the commercially insured population with
coverage for Belviq has crossed 60%.
Arena Pharma and Eisai are evaluating Belviq for additional
indications. The companies are evaluating Belviq for smoking
cessation (a phase II study initiated) as well as weight management
in combination with phentermine (a 12-week pilot study, enrollment
completed). Additionally, the companies are also studying Belviq's
effects on diabetes and cardiovascular outcomes (CAMELLIA study).
Arena Pharma also plans to initiate a study evaluating Belviq 20 mg
extended release tablets in children in the third quarter of 2014.
Results from the study will be released in the second quarter of
Arena Pharma's pipeline includes several candidates including
APD811 (pulmonary arterial hypertension, planning to initiate phase
II study in mid 2014), APD334 (autoimmune diseases, preparing to
initiate phase I multiple-ascending dose study), temanogreal
(thrombotic diseases, phase I) and APD371 (pain, phase I). Arena
Pharma has collaborated with Ildong Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. for
the development of temanogreal.
We are disappointed with Arena Pharma missing estimates squarely.
Although Belviq sales were lukewarm in the quarter, we believe that
the company will benefit from the promotional efforts undertaken by
Eisai. Arena Pharma's growth is highly dependent on Belviq, the
company's sole marketed product. The product represents significant
revenue potential and its successful commercialization should drive
a company of Arena Pharma's size to profitability.
We are positive on the beefed up sales force for Belviq. We believe
it can boost sales by promoting the drug to more physicians.
Increased awareness should help Belviq sales to gain momentum.
Currently available therapies for obesity include
) Qsymia, launched in Sep 2012.
Arena Pharma currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better
ranked stocks in the health care sector include
Gilead Sciences Inc.
) carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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