Amarin attracts long list of suitors Print E-mail
By Patrick Crutcher   
Tuesday, 18 January 2011 03:11

amarinlogoAmarin Corp.(NASDAQ: AMRN) has certainly been a great stock to own ever since our call back in late October, when the stock was trading around $3; gaining over 300% since then. Recent comments from the CEO suggest that they are on multiple shopping lists out of big pharma.

Lately, it has gotten a lot of attention from the investment community following a capital raise where banks and institutions were buying shares by the millions. They raised roughly $100 million dollars and the market completely absorbed it; they even maxed out the over-allotment on the offering. That’s a powerful buy signal for retail investors to take notice.


Bloomberg's recent story on Amarin is a must read for investors. While at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, Bloomberg interviewed CEO Joe Zakrzewski, whom had this to say, “I have more companies interested in this asset than employees,” The company employs 17 people, he said.” When we first saw the original MARINE data back at the end of November, we figured there would certainly be interest in AMR-101, but we could have never imagined that big pharmas would be flooding Amarin with offers. There is so much interest, that Amarin will be retaining a financial adviser to review the alternatives and offers, since they have received interest from over a dozen companies.

To briefly review,  AMR101(ethyl icosapentate) is a purified, prescription-grade omega-3 fatty acid compound that is presently being investigated in two Phase 3 clinical trials, one for the treatment of patients with very high triglyceride levels(MARINE) and the other for the treatment of patients with high triglycerides with mixed dyslipidemia(ANCHOR). The MARINE study’s objective were to determine the efficacy of AMR101 versus placebo in lowering triglyceride levels in patients with very high triglyceride levels(500 ≤ TGL ≤ 2000 mg/dL). While the ANCHOR study(most important) is aimed at those with high triglyceride levels(200 ≤ TGL ≤ 500 mg/dL). Both Phase 3 trials are being conducted under Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) agreements with the FDA.

Amarin delivered results from the MARINE study back in November, which showed that AMR-101 was able to demonstrate a significant reduction in triglyceride levels without effecting cholesterol.The patient group treated with 4 grams of AMR101 showed a significant median TG decrease of 33 % (P 750 mg/dL(39% of all patients), the effect of AMR101 in reducing TG levels was even more prominent. In this group, the median decrease in TG levels from placebo was 45% for 4 grams and 33% for 2 grams, both statistically significant (P= 0.0001 for 4 grams and P= 0.0016 for 2 grams, respectively). Additionally, those on background statin therapy had much greater median reductions in TG, which were also statistically significant, than those not on statin therapy. They expect to release more details about the study at an upcoming scientific meeting in April.

As we stressed earlier, AMR-101 continues to outshine Lovaza by demonstrating a better cholesterol profile. AMR-101 did not increase levels of low-density lipoprotein(LDL-C), or "bad cholesterol", in this study. This is a significant side effect for those taking Lovaza, as it can require additional treatment with statins. This was the first triglyceride-lowering therapy studied to demonstrate a lack of elevation in LDL-C. There was also a statistically significant decrease in median non-HDL-C (total cholesterol less "good cholesterol") compared to placebo with both of the AMR101 treated groups (-18% for the 4 gram group [p < 0.001] and -8% for the 2 gram group [p < 0.05]). Additionally, Amarin saw significant reductions in several important lipid markers, including Apo B, Lp-PLA2 (Lipoprotein-phospholipase A2), VLDL-C and total cholesterol. Lovaza can raise LDL-C by 45%, whereas AMR-101 does not. AMR-101 will offer primary-care physicians a much better option for lowering triglycerides without raising bad cholesterol.

Yesterday morning, they were spotlighted on CNBC by Hapoalim Securities’ analyst, Jon LeCroy, who gave a bullish investment thesis for buying Amarin. LeCroy thinks AMR101, Amarin’s lead product, could be have peak annual sales of $1 billion, and values a potential acquisition of them at around $4 billion. By the way, they have Amarin rated as a ‘Buy’ with a $12 price target. In our view, Lecroy’s estimates are failry conservative, since they are most likely factoring in the risk associated with pending results from the ANCHOR study.

If the ANCHOR study results are successful, AMR101 has the potential to address a substantially larger patient population than Lovaza. Lovaza is currently labeled to help patients with triglyceride levels greater than 500 mg/dL, whereas AMR101 could potentially be used for those with triglycerides from 200 to 2000 mg/dL, which would be the broadest label for this indication. AMR101 has the potential to address over 100 million patients in the United States if approved and both studies show strong efficacy. AMR101 also does not have the fishy taste, smell or belching, and skin reactions that are common for Lovaza.( Lovaza had global sales of over $1 billion in 2009.) With positive results in the ANCHOR study, Amarin has the all the makings of a multi-billion dollar takeover in 2011.

Disclosure: Long AMRN

Our original coverage(when AMRN was near $3) -

Our take on MARINE results -

Amarin CEO Seeks Adviser After Buyer, Partner Interest -

CNBC video, “Potential Blockbuster Bet?” -

Shares soar on Phase 3 data -

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