WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J., May 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Eisai Inc. announced today it will add more than 200 new contract sales representatives to its Metabolic Business Unit, bringing the total sales force for BELVIQ® to approximately 600, triple the size from when the FDA-approved prescription therapy for chronic weight management became available in June 2013. This expansion, which becomes effective on July 1, 2014, will allow Eisai to reach approximately 90,000 physicians.
The increase in sales representatives follows Eisai's recent launch of a national television advertising campaign which encourages those who continue to struggle with their weight to speak to their doctor about the potential of BELVIQ, when combined with diet and increased activity, to help them lose weight and keep it off. (To view the advertisement for BELVIQ, visit http://www.multivu.com/mnr/7161051-eisai-launches-national-television-campaign-belviq-lorcaserin-hcl-civ)
"We believe that it's important for patients who have not succeeded with losing weight through diet and exercise alone to speak with their healthcare providers about weight management options," said Michael O'Brien, Vice President, Americas, Metabolic Business Unit at Eisai. "Our goal with both the expansion of the field force and consumer advertising campaign is to ensure that both physicians and patients have the information they need to have a productive conversation about the potential value of BELVIQ as part of a long term weight loss regimen."
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.
In addition to creating greater awareness of BELVIQ among physicians and patients, Eisai continues to work toward expanded reimbursement coverage for BELVIQ from the payor community. According to Fingertip Formulary, the number of insured commercial lives in the United States with access to BELVIQ now exceeds 60 percent. The health plan beneficiary/patient will need to verify coverage with their insurance company.
"Eisai is dedicated to ensuring the appropriate patients have access to BELVIQ," said Yuji Matsue, Chairman and CEO of Eisai Inc. and President of the Americas Region. "We continue to work with managed care companies, insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and government payors to establish the broadest possible access for eligible patients."
Approximately two-thirds of American adults are affected by obesity or are overweight and the prevalence of obesity in the United States has more than doubled among adults in the past 30 years. Many health organizations and authorities, including the American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health now recognize obesity as a chronic and progressive disease that needs to be treated.
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.
SOURCE Eisai Inc.