WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J., Oct. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Eisai Inc. announced today that, as part of its long-term marketing strategy, the company will expand its sales force by adding more than 200 new contract sales representatives to its Specialty Business Unit. The representatives will focus on educating healthcare providers in the United States about BELVIQ®, and will bring the total sales force to approximately 400 by December, double the size from when BELVIQ became available in June 2013. This expansion will allow Eisai to reach approximately 65,000 physicians, including primary care providers, endocrinologists, cardiovascular specialists, and gastrointestinal specialists.
The planned expansion of the sales force follows increased coverage of BELVIQ by payors since the treatment first became available. According to BusinessOne Technologies, a leader in managed markets-focused integrated data and analytics business solutions, in addition to existing coverage, BELVIQ is now also covered by several prominent health plans and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) including, but not limited to, Express Scripts (including its legacy Express Scripts and Medco operations), Tufts, Health Alliance Plan, Excellus BCBS, Highmark BCBS, BCBS of Michigan, BCBS of North Carolina, and Healthnet (California). While the exact coverage for BELVIQ varies by patient, this improved access means more patients will receive coverage support from their health plan or PBM. Patients can determine their precise benefit by calling their healthcare plan provider or PBM.
"Eisai is deeply committed to launching innovative therapies with strong support by the payor community. The expansion of our sales force demonstrates the success we have gained in discussing the potential value of BELVIQ in chronic weight management within the payor community, and the subsequent agreements we have reached with many of our payor partners," said Lonnel Coats, President and Chief Executive Officer, Eisai Inc. "We are in very active and productive discussions with other major payors and fully expect the reimbursement landscape will further improve as we head into 2014."
In addition to supporting physician education efforts, the sales force also educates physicians about recently launched patient programs including the BELIEVE EVERYDAY SUPPORTSM program, which provides free, comprehensive support and savings for BELVIQ patients, including a customizable online portal designed to help some patients reach their weight loss goals and sustain their efforts. Patients who obtain a BELVIQ prescription can enroll for free online at BelieveSupport.com.
"We are thrilled that reimbursement for BELVIQ among payors is broadening, helping to improve patient access to the treatment, which is at the forefront of Eisai's human health care commitment to put patients and their families first. We are pleased to announce the expansion of the sales force, ultimately helping to communicate the safety and efficacy of BELVIQ as a chronic weight management treatment option along with diet and exercise to a significantly increased number of healthcare professionals," said Michael O'Brien, Vice President, Specialty Marketing and Sales Business Unit for Eisai. "This initiative is in alignment with our strategic vision and long-term goals for BELVIQ of focusing on physician education, providing patient support and increasing awareness, and addressing the need for expanded reimbursement coverage among payors."
The new contract sales force representatives are currently located throughout the United States.
BELVIQ is used along with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management in adults who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or greater (obese), or BMI of 27 kg/m2 or greater (overweight) with at least one weight-related medical condition such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes. It is not known if BELVIQ is safe and effective when taken with other prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal weight loss products, nor is it known if BELVIQ changes the risk of heart problems or stroke, or death due to heart problems or stroke.
BELVIQ is believed to decrease food consumption and promote satiety by selectively activating serotonin 2C receptors in the brain. The exact mechanism of action of BELVIQ is not known.
Important Safety Information
- Pregnancy: Do not take BELVIQ if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, as weight loss offers no potential benefit during pregnancy and BELVIQ may harm your unborn baby.
- Serotonin Syndrome or Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS)-like reactions: Before using BELVIQ, tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, especially medicines that treat depression, migraines, mental problems, or the common cold. These medicines may cause serious or life-threatening side effects if taken with BELVIQ. Call your doctor right away if you experience agitation, hallucinations, confusion, or other changes in mental status; coordination problems; uncontrolled muscle spasms; muscle twitching; restlessness; racing or fast heartbeat; high or low blood pressure; sweating; fever; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; or stiff muscles.
- Valvular heart disease: Some people taking medicines like BELVIQ have had heart valve problems. Call your doctor right away if you experience trouble breathing; swelling of the arms, legs, ankles, or feet; dizziness, fatigue, or weakness that will not go away; or fast or irregular heartbeat. Before taking BELVIQ, tell your doctor if you have or have had heart problems.
- Changes in attention or memory: BELVIQ may slow your thinking. You should not drive a car or operate heavy equipment until you know how BELVIQ affects you.
- Mental problems: Taking too much BELVIQ may cause hallucinations, a feeling of being high or in a very good mood, or feelings of standing outside your body.
- Depression or thoughts of suicide: Call your doctor right away if you notice any mental changes, especially sudden changes in your mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings, or if you have depression or thoughts of suicide.
- Low blood sugar: Weight loss can cause low blood sugar in people taking medicines for type 2 diabetes, such as insulin or sulfonylureas. Blood sugar levels should be checked before and while taking BELVIQ. Changes to diabetes medication may be needed if low blood sugar develops.
- Painful erections: If you have an erection lasting more than 4 hours while on BELVIQ, stop taking BELVIQ and call your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room right away.
- Slow heartbeat: BELVIQ may cause your heart to beat slower.
- Decreases in blood cell count: BELVIQ may cause your red and white blood cell counts to decrease.
- Increase in prolactin: BELVIQ may increase the amount of a hormone called prolactin. Tell your doctor if your breasts begin to make milk or a milky fluid, or if you are a male and your breasts increase in size.
- Most common side effects in patients without diabetes: Headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, dry mouth, and constipation.
- Most common side effects in patients with diabetes: Low blood sugar, headache, back pain, cough, and fatigue.
- Nursing: BELVIQ should not be taken while breastfeeding.
- Drug interactions: Before taking BELVIQ, tell your doctor if you take medicines for depression, migraines, or other medical conditions, such as: triptans; medicines used to treat mood, anxiety, psychotic or thought disorders, including tricyclics, lithium, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or antipsychotics; cabergoline; linezolid (an antibiotic); tramadol; dextromethorphan (an over-the-counter (OTC) common cold/cough medicine); OTC supplements such as tryptophan or St. John's Wort; or erectile dysfunction medicines.
BELVIQ is a federally controlled substance (CIV) because it may be abused or lead to drug dependence.
BELVIQ® is a registered trademark of Arena Pharmaceuticals GmbH.
About Eisai Inc.
At Eisai Inc., human health care is our goal. We give our first thoughts to patients and their families, and helping to increase the benefits health care provides. As the U.S. pharmaceutical subsidiary of Tokyo-based Eisai Co., Ltd., we have a passionate commitment to patient care that is the driving force behind our efforts to help address unmet medical needs. We are a fully integrated pharmaceutical business with discovery, clinical, manufacturing and marketing capabilities. Our key areas of commercial focus include oncology and specialty care (Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy and metabolic disorders). To learn more about Eisai Inc., please visit us at www.eisai.com/US.
Eisai Inc. has affiliates that are part of a global product creation organization that includes R&D facilities in Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, as well as a global demand chain organization that includes manufacturing facilities in Maryland and North Carolina. Eisai's global areas of R&D focus include neuroscience; oncology; metabolic disorders; vascular, inflammatory and immunological reaction; and antibody-based programs.
About BusinessOne Technologies, Inc.
BusinessOne Technologies, Inc., develops and deploys health care business intelligence and data solutions, providing competitive, strategic analysis for biotech and pharmaceutical manufacturers, PBMs, specialty pharmacy providers, investment firms and other clients. Through its customizable, web-based portal, Maestro™, end-users can access and analyze over 400 data elements related to formulary and coverage policy control, benefit design, reimbursement, demographics and utilization at the plan and physician level. To learn more about BusinessOne Technologies, please visit www.businessonetech.com.
SOURCE Eisai Inc.