- Amarin, an Ireland-based pharmaceutical company whose sole product faces greater competition, is looking to conserve cash through a restructuring plan that includes laying off more than 40% of its workforce.
- Amarin's drug, called Vascepa, is used to both lower the risk of cardiovascular health issues like heart attacks and stroke, and to treat patients with dangerously high levels of a certain kind of bloodstream fat. Amarin had pegged Vascepa as a product that could potentially generate at least a billion dollars in annual sales, but challenges to the patents protecting Vascepa have hindered it commercially. As of early May, three copycat versions of the drug had entered the U.S. market.
- Amarin ended last year with approximately 560 full-time employees. Under the plan announced Monday, about 65% of the company's U.S. commercial team will be eliminated. Amarin estimates the overall restructuring effort will reduce its operating costs by roughly $100 million over the next year, while also allowing for further investment in the European launch of Vascepa.
Shares of Amarin more than quintupled in value in the fall of 2018.
To many investors' surprise, Vascepa, a derivative of a compound found in fish oil, scored remarkably positive results in a large clinical trial. The study enrolled nearly 8,200 adults who had elevated triglyceride levels despite the use of statins, and showed those given Amarin's pill on top of statin therapy experienced a 25% relative reduction in the risk of major cardiovascular health problems like nonfatal heart attacks and strokes.
The results led Amarin and analysts on Wall Street to forecast a significant sales bump for Vascepa, which at the time was only approved for patients with severely high triglyceride levels. The Food and Drug Administration approved Vascepa as a cardiovascular treatment at the tail end of 2019, a year in which net Vascepa revenue totaled almost $430 million.
Net revenue from the drug rose to $607 million in 2020. But that year also saw Amarin lose several key legal battles over the patents protecting Vascepa. By 2021, Amarin's annual net revenue had dipped to $580 million, a decrease that, according to the company, was in large part due to generic competition.
Amarin shares, which often traded around $20 apiece in 2018 and 2019, have since lost most of their value. As of Monday's market close, shares were each worth $1.64.
Now, Amarin is dialing back its investment in U.S. sales operations, reducing its commercial team by roughly 90% of pre-pandemic and pre-generic competition levels. The company recorded $408 million in selling, general and administrative expenses last year.
"We have completely reshaped our investment plan for the future," Amarin CEO Karim Mikhail said in a statement, adding that the company's "comprehensive actions will enable us to better serve patients while creating value for shareholders over the long-term.”
Helping oversee that long-term vision is a new CFO, Tom Reilly, who Amarin announced Monday would take over for former finance chief Michael Kalb on June 20.