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Buyout talk swirls around Amarin, with AZ and Teva rumored buyers

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Psst! Have you heard? A heavyweight drugmaker is trying to buy Amarin ($AMRN). So says Calcalist, which identifies the potential acquirers as AstraZeneca ($AZN)--an oft-cited match for the smaller company--and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA).

It's just the latest round of Amarin buyout talk. As FierceBiotech reported last month, the on-again, off-again speculation has some basis in fact: Amarin needs some marketing heft to get the most from its newly approved omega 3 drug, Vascepa. The company just doesn't have the people-power to promote Vascepa to vast numbers of primary care doctors.

But there's one big snag: Amarin is still waiting to find out whether FDA considers Vascepa to be a new chemical entity (NCE). If Vascepa gets the NCE designation, it wins 5 years of exclusivity. If it doesn't, generic competition could crop up relatively quickly. That puts the long-term value of Vascepa in some serious doubt.

There's another wrinkle to the rumors, on the potential-buyer side. AstraZeneca just got a new CEO, Pascal Soriot, who's made no secret of his desire for M&A. He says he's not interested in big deals, but Amarin isn't that big, at least by Big Pharma standards; its market cap as of today is about $1.6 billion, Reuters says. As for Teva, Vascepa would add to the company's stable of branded drugs. Its new CEO, Jeremy Levin, has said he's interested in building up the branded side of the generics giant's business.

- read the Reuters news

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