Arena Pharmaceuticals 1Q Loss Narrower-Than-Expected - Analyst Blog

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Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc.ARNA reported a first-quarter 2015 loss of 10 cents per share, narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 14 cents and the year-ago loss of 12 cents.

Total revenues increased 79.9% year over year to $12.3 million, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $10 million. Reported quarter revenues include a $3 million milestone payment related to Belviq's approval in South Korea.

The Quarter in Detail

Arena Pharma recorded Belviq (weight management) sales of $6.6 million (including $0.4 million from the 15-day free trial voucher redemption), up 73.7% sequentially.

Eisai ESALY recorded net product sales of $12.8 million for Belviq in the reported quarter. As per IMS Health, total prescriptions for Belviq increased approximately 13.7% from the preceding quarter to about 169,000. Arena recorded sales of $2.2 million in the first quarter of 2015 from South Korea, where Belviq was launched by partner Ildong in late Feb 2015.

Eisai has been focusing on increasing prescription refill rates including through its pay no more than $75 savings card and on improving insurance coverage for Belviq. Arena Pharma and Eisai are looking to re-submit Belviq in the EU around Mar 2016.

Arena Pharma and Eisai are evaluating Belviq for additional indications like weight management in combination with phentermine and smoking cessation. Eisai and Arena Pharma are planning a meeting with the FDA (to take place in the next 2-2.5 months) to move the drug into the next stage of development for the weight management indication.

Meanwhile, the companies are looking to submit a new drug application for a once-daily extended release formulation of Belviq in the U.S. later this year.

As far as the rest of the pipeline is concerned, Arena Pharma intends to initiate a phase II study on APD334 later this year for ulcerative colitis. Apart from these, the pipeline includes ralinepag (phase II - pulmonary arterial hypertension) and APD371 (pain and fibrotic diseases - multiple ascending dose study to commence later this year) among others.

Research & development (R&D) expenses increased 4.7% year over year to $21.9 million. General & administrative (G&A) expenses increased 5% year over year to $8.4 million.

Along with reporting first quarter 2015 results, Arena Pharma announced a development, marketing and supply agreement with Roivant Sciences Ltd. for nelotanserin. Under the agreement, Roivant will gain exclusive global rights to develop and commercialize nelotanserin. In return, Arena Pharma is entitled to a $4 million upfront payment as well as regulatory and development-based milestone payments (up to $41.5 million), a portion (15%) of net sales in exchange for the manufacture and supply of finished commercial drug product and up to $60 million in other payments.

Roivant intends to move nelotanserin into phase II studies for the treatment of behavioral and neuropsychiatric disturbances including psychoses in patients with dementia and other neurological diseases.

Arena Pharma is a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock. The company's first quarter 2015 results were better-than-expected with Belviq sales as well as prescriptions improving on a sequential basis. Investor focus will remain on Belviq's performance.

Some better-ranked stocks in the health care sector include Gilead Sciences, Inc. GILD and Actelion Ltd. ALIOF . Both are Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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