Amarin wins FDA approval for fat drug
IRISH drug firm Amarin has secured US approval to sell its Vascepa treatment to lower fat levels in blood, marking a major milestone for the company.
In what is the drug-development firm's first product approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Amarin is now poised to commence sales of the treatment in the first quarter of next year.
Those sales could reach as much as $1.25bn (€1bn) a year by 2017, according to one analyst, marking the drug out as an elite 'blockbuster' medicine that generates substantial revenues.
Amarin, whose board of directors include former Elan chief scientist Lars Ekman, is a spin-off from the Irish drug group.
Previous trials of Vascepa, which is an ultra-pure omega-3 fatty acid product, have displayed marked reductions in fatty deposits in blood of patients using it.
The drug will compete against rival products available from industry heavyweights including Abbot Laboratories and AstraZeneca.
There's speculation that this could make Amarin, whose stock is quoted on the Nasdaq in the US, a takeover target. Pfizer is also perceived as a likely suitor for Amarin.
Analysts have placed an average price target of $25 on Amarin's stock, which would give it a market capitalisation of $3.5bn. The stock was trading down 8.2pc in New York yesterday afternoon.
Amarin chief executive officer Joseph Zakrzewski conceded yesterday that an acquisition of the company is one of the possible avenues now being anticipated by management.
"Amarin continues to anticipate commercial launch of Vascepa early in the first quarter of 2013, and we continue to consider three potential paths for the marketing and sale of the product: an acquisition of Amarin, a strategic collaboration, or self-commercialisation, the latter of which could include third-party support," Mr Zakrzewski said.