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

The 10 Biggest Airports in the World

The 5 Most Gang Infested Cities In America

The 34 Smartest Countries in the World

The 10 Countries with the Highest Suicide Rates

The 10 Most Technologically Advanced Countries in the World

The 10 Safest Countries in the World to Live in Peace

The 10 Top Selling Smartphones in the World 2014

The 12 Biggest Shopping Centers in the World

The 10 Friendliest Countries in the World

Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd (QIHU), Actavis plc (ACT), Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Among 20 Long Ideas from Sohn Canada

The 10 Laziest Countries in the World

The 10 Most Polluted Countries in the World

The 10 Most Dangerous Cities in America 2014

The Top 10 Gold Producing Countries in the World

The 10 Tallest Buildings in the World

The 10 Richest Stand Up Comedians in the World

The 10 Fattest Countries in the World

The 5 Best Summer Jobs for Teens

The 10 Most Religious Countries in the World Keeping the Faith

The 10 Most Educated Countries in the World

The 10 Most Popular Cell Phones in the World

The 10 Drunkest Countries in the World

The 10 Most Expensive Private Schools in the World

The 10 Smallest Countries in the World

Walking Dead Season 5 Spoilers You’ll Wish You Didn’t Know

The 10 Poorest Countries in the World

The 10 Greenest Countries in the World

The Top 10 Countries with the Highest Population in the World

The 10 Most Visited Countries in the World

The Top 10 Star Wars Characters in the Iconic Series

The 10 Most Expensive Android Phones in the World

5 Reasons Why The Illuminati Is Real and a Threat to Society

The 6 Scariest Halloween Costumes Ever Screamed At

The 4 Biggest Hedge Fund Managers in the World Today

The 15 Most Densely Populated Countries in the World

The 10 Biggest Tea Drinking Countries in the World

Top 6 Ways to Improve Your Checkout Process and Close Sales

The 5 Most Profitable Online Businesses You Can Start Today

The 20 Most Profitable Hospitals in the US

The 5 Most Profitable Home Businesses to Start

The 7 Teams that Will Win the Stanley Cup in 2015

The Top 10 Most Expensive Digital Cameras to Snap Stunning Shots With

The 10 Highest Quality Fast Food Restaurants In America Today

The 8 Best Halloween Decorating Ideas to Spook Up Your House

10 Marvel Women that Should Get a Movie Right Now

The 20 Best Remixes of Popular Songs that Will Make You Forget the Originals

7 Most Expensive Cities in the World

5 Least Expensive Cities in the World

10 Celebrities Who Believe In Scientology

10 High Margin Food Products to Build a Business Around

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!