The Weight Loss Drug That was the Week

There wasn’t much movement in the financial markets during this abbreviated Presidents’ Day week. Both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up a tick, stubbornly refusing to drop even amid extreme overbought conditions and the ongoing Greek debt crisis.

But one healthcare stock in particular was a huge gainer in this four-day week: Vivus (Nasdaq: VVUS).

The drugmaker was up 98% this week on the strength of its new weight loss drug Qnexa, which the Food and Drug Administration gave a strong endorsement. The 20-to-2 endorsement by a board of FDA advisors moved Vivus one step closer to becoming the first U.S.-approved weight loss pill in 13 years. Vivus finished the week at a new 52-week high of $22.13 a share.

The obesity epidemic in the U.S. has been well-documented. So anytime a weight loss drug gets introduced, people go gaga – including investors. There is of course the risk that the FDA won’t ultimately approve the drug.

But if Qnexa does ultimately get approved, this week’s move by Vivus’ stock could merely be prelude to much bigger things.

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