Abbott Laboratories (ABT), VIVUS, Inc. (VVUS) – It’s Official: Obesity Is a Disease

According to the American Medical Association, obesity is now officially a disease.

A highly preventable disease, but a disease nonetheless.

I think that’s probably the right call. For many people, lung cancer is highly preventable — just don’t smoke — but it would be weird not to call lung cancer a disease.

The decision wasn’t without debate, though. In fact, the AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health actually recommended against calling obesity a disease. The main issue revolves around using body mass index, or BMI, as a measure for obesity. A 5’11” man who weighs 215 pounds is technically obese, but he may be fairly healthy and probably doesn’t need to be treated aggressively. There was also a worry that calling obesity a disease might let people off the hook in trying to prevent it in the first place.

Ultimately, the AMA’s House of Delegates ignored the council’s recommendation, voting in favor of a resolution to recognize obesity as a disease.

Great news for these companies
In the past, there’s been a distinct lack of interest in treating obesity. Doctors felt that it was mostly an aesthetic issue, so drugs to treat obesity had to be very safe. The severity of the disease is always a consideration in the acceptability of how severe side effects can be.

More recently, it’s become clear that obesity is a risk factor for other issues including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, making prevention and treatment a higher priority.

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT)

Unfortunately, having Wyeth’s Fen-Phen and Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT)‘s Meridia pulled off the market because of side effect issues made many doctors wary of treatments. VIVUS, Inc. (NASDAQ:VVUS) got off to a very slow start, selling just $4.1 million of its obesity drug Qsymia in the first quarter, its second full quarter on the market.

The AMA’s decision should shed light on the issue, stressing treatment. But I continue to think it’s going to take time before doctors have enough experience prescribing Qsymia and Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARNA) and Eisai’s Belviq that they’re prescribing them to a majority of their obese patients. Clinical trial data is nice, but there’s no substitute for real-life experience on a few select patients.

Perhaps more importantly, the AMA’s decision could affect reimbursement for the drugs. VIVUS, Inc. (NASDAQ:VVUS) and Eisai are slowly gaining coverage from private insurersm, and an endorsement by the AMA certainly won’t hurt their efforts. VIVUS, Inc. (NASDAQ:VVUS) is shooting for 50% coverage of people covered by private insurance by the end of the year  The AMA’s endorsement may also affect government coverage. A bill was recently introduced into Congress that would provide coverage of obesity drugs by Medicare.

Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:OREX) , the third player whose obesity drug could be approved next year, might be hitting the market at the perfect time, just as all the kinks are worked out. And if its drug Contrave is approved, it’ll be the only one to have shown that it doesn’t cause cardiovascular problems.

The article It’s Official: Obesity Is a Disease originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli plans to go for a run after finishing this article. He has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Insider Monkey Headlines
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy
Insider Monkey Small Cap Strategy

Insider Monkey beat the market by 52 percentage points in 24 months Click to see monthly returns in table format!

Lists

Top 20 Female Billionaires in 2014

6 Movies That You Should Watch to Better Understand The Cold War

Top 15 Best Paying Jobs for Women in 2014

Top 6 Things Rich People Do Differently Every Day

5 Retirement Mistakes To Avoid (and Einstein’s Famous Quote)

11 Smartest People in the World

6 Films About the Financial World You Need To Watch (While “The Wolf” is Not Around)

Warren Buffett and Billionaires Are Crazy About These 7 Stocks

The Top 10 States With Fastest Internet Speeds

10 Best Places to Visit in USA in August

Top 10 Cities to Visit Before You Die

Top 10 Genetically Modified Food In the US

15 Highest Grossing Movies Opening Weekend

5 Best Poker Books For Beginners

10 Strategies Hedge Funds Use to Make Huge Returns

Top 10 Fast Food Franchises to Buy

10 Best Places to Visit in Canada

Best Summer Jobs for Teachers

10 Youngest Hedge Fund Billionaires

Top 10 One Hit Wonders of the 90s

Fastest Growing Cities In America

Top 10 U.S. Cities for Freelancers

Top 9 Most Popular Free iPhone Apps

Top 10 Least Expensive Private Business Schools in the US

Top 15 Most Expensive Countries in the World – 2014

Top 6 Tax Scams and How to Protect Yourself

Top Businesses to Invest In

Top 5 Things You Might Be Doing Wrong With Your Business

Top 5 Strategic Technology Trends in 2014

Top Rags to Riches Stories

Parenting Behavior That Promotes Future Leaders

Top 5 Mistakes Made by Small Businesses

Top 5 Most Common and Potentially Devastating Financial Blunders

Top 5 Highest Paying Jobs for Web Designers

Top 6 Most Respected Professions that Also Pay Well

Top 5 Pitfalls Investors Should Avoid

Top 6 Lawyers and Policy Makers Under 30

Top 6 New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

Top 7 Locations to Check in on Facebook

Top 5 Mistakes made by Rookie eBay Sellers

Top 7 eBook Publishers in 2013

Top 6 Health Industry Trends in 2014

5 Lessons for Entrepreneurs from Seth Godin

Top 5 Success Tips from Jordan Belfort – the Wolf of Wall Street

Best Master’s in Finance Degree Programs

Top 6 Earning Celebrities Over 50

The most expensive sports to play

Top 7 Earning Celebrities Under 25

Best 7 Online Courses to Take: Free Finance MOOCs

Top 6 Bad Habits that Promote Failure

Subscribe

Enter your email:

Delivered by FeedBurner

X

Thanks! An email with instructions is sent to !

Your email already exists in our database. Click here to go to your subscriptions

Insider Monkey returned 47.6% in its first year! Wondering How?

Download a complete edition of our newsletter for free!