The outbreak of China’s novel coronavirus is affecting not only the medical but the pharmaceutical community in Korea.
Alvogen Korea said it canceled its symposium, initially scheduled for Wednesday evening to invite more than 1,000 physicians and celebrate the market release of obesity treatment Qsymia (ingredient: phentermine hydrochloride), at InterContinental Grand Seoul Parnas in southern Seoul.
Obtaining the local license in July last year, Qsymia drew keen attention from doctors with efficacy in weight control.
Alvogen Korea has been planning a large celebration because Korea would be the second market to roll out the obesity treatment after the U.S. in 2012.
However, as the public concerns rose over a spread of the novel coronavirus and the government raised the alert level to “alert,” the company nullified the event on Tuesday and notified it to the participants. In 2015, the nation maintained the alert level at “caution” during the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak.
“After the new coronavirus broke out, we are observing the situation. But we decided that it was inappropriate to hold a massive event when the worries about infections grew,” an official at Alvogen Korea said. “We cannot help but suffer a loss, but we decided to cancel the event to promote the safety of doctors and to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Physicians welcomed the company’s decision.
“I heard the company put a lot of effort into promoting the drug,” said one doctor who had planned to attend the symposium for Qsymia. “It’s too bad, but it was a wise call. Hundreds of doctors were supposed to gather. If the event becomes a source of the spread of the new coronavirus, it will be a disaster.”
Qsymia, the combination drug of phentermine and topiramate, was authorized as adjuvant therapy for low-calorie diet and increased physical activity for weight management in adult patients. Patients can take the medicine in the morning once daily, regardless of food intake.
The treatment can be used for adults with body mass index (BMI) 30 or more or adults with BMI 27 or more who have at least one of the weight-related diseases such as hypertension, type-2 diabetes, or dyslipidemia.