* Deal worth up to 95 mln euros
* Vivus says activist investor criticisms are off base
* Vivus shares rise as much as 6 pct
July 9 Vivus Inc, which is under
intense pressure from its top shareholder over its marketing,
said it signed a deal worth up to 95 million euros ($121.47
million) with Italy's Menarini Group to introduce its erectile
dysfunction drug in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Vivus shares rose as much as 6 percent in morning trading on
the Nasdaq before easing back to be up 2.5 percent in early
Privately held Menarini will sell the drug, avanafil, as
Spedra in Australia, New Zealand and 40 European countries.
Avanafil has not been launched in the United States despite
being cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration more than
a year ago because Vivus has been unable to find a partner to
sell it - among the complaints of 9.9 percent shareholder First
Vivus will get an upfront payment of 16 million euros, and
is eligible for up to 79 million euros in milestone payments
above royalties on Spedra's sales.
The erectile dysfunction drug will be Vivus's second product
on the market after weight-loss drug Qsymia, whose sales have
struggled to reach anywhere near analysts' expectations.
First Manhattan nominated a slate of new directors and even
proposed a new chief executive for Vivus in March, criticising
the company for a poor launch of Qsymia.
Vivus said on Tuesday that First Manhattan has been offering
only "uncertainty and delay" in its efforts to shake up the
"FMC's 'plan' - to the extent they have one - appears to
revolve solely around doing things that the Vivus board and
management team are already doing, 'fixing' things that aren't
broken," Vivus said in a statement.
The company said its management was already doing what
needed to be done to unlock the full sales potential of Qsymia.
First Manhattan and Vivus will face off on July 15 when
shareholders vote on the alternative board nominations.
Vivus shares were up 2.5 percent at $12.86 in early