Some are skeptical about Amarin’s prospects for obtaining approval to sell Vascepa for treating individuals who have triglyceride levels between 200 and 500 mg/dL. While the drug is approved for people with very high triglyceride levels, the market for this lower-yet-still-high triglyceride level range is 10 times larger.
There is also skepticism in the physician and payer community about the real health benefits of prescription fish-oil drugs. Several clinical studies have had less-than-stellar results.
To be fair, though, studies of Vascepa showed solid results in lowering triglyceride levels. Unlike Glaxo’s Lovaza, it did so without raising cholesterol levels. And while analysts expect Lovaza sales to decline this year, Amarin continues to report higher sales for Vascepa.
AstraZeneca and Omthera only recently submitted a New Drug Application for Epanova in treating patients with very high triglyceride levels of 500 mg/dL and above. Meanwhile, Amarin moves ahead with marketing to that patient population while it awaits possible approval for a much-larger market. A decision by the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled for Dec. 20.
I suspect that the company will continue to report increasing Vascepa sales numbers. There also appears to be a reasonable chance that the FDA will approve the drug for individuals with high (as opposed to very high) triglyceride levels later this year. Amarin’s shares could very well be much higher by year end.
For now, though, I’d recommend a “more means less” strategy. Wait for a little more certainty about the market for Vascepa — and take less profit.
Like many biotech and pharmaceutical stocks, Amarin Corporation plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:AMRN) carries considerable risk. Of course, it also brings the potential for significant rewards in exchange. It’s good for investors to balance stocks like Amarin with others that have less risk, like solid dividend stocks.
The article Amarin Shares Sink on Secondary Offering originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Keith Speights.
Fool contributor Keith Speights has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.
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