Amarin axes 120 of its 385 employees, hires new CEO Patrick Holt

With its revenue continuing to plummet—from $85 million in the first quarter to $65 million in the second—Amarin is restructuring under new leadership following a takeover of its board by activist investor Sarissa Capital three months ago.

The company will lay off its entire sales force in the U.S. and reduce its non-sales staff by 30%. Of its 385 employees, Amarin will let go 120, “or about one-third of our organization,” interim CEO Aaron Berg said on a conference call.

“This program will bring with it a restructuring charge of $10 million and is expected to deliver annual cost savings of approximately $40 million,” Berg added.

Stepping in to help chart and execute Amarin’s new course is CEO Patrick Holt, who most recently was president of Cordis, Cardinal Health’s global interventional cardiovascular business, before it was bought out by Hellman & Friedman for $1 billion in 2021. Before that, Holt held executive positions at Merck and Allergan.

With news of the restructuring, Amarin’s shares fell 23% by mid-morning to $1.10 per share. At their peak three years ago, shares were priced at more than $24.

Faced with generic competition in the U.S. for its lone commercial product Vascepa, sales are rapidly eroding. Amarin has patent protection for the heart-helping drug in Europe, but attempts to launch have been spotty as sales there totaled just $600,000 in the second quarter.

“In Europe, we are redesigning and improving the efficiency of our commercial infrastructure to better align with pricing and reimbursement status and commercial potential,” Berg said.

In the U.S., Amarin will try to maximize Vascepa’s reach as a branded product before entering the market with its own generic version, Berg added.

After Vascepa was approved by the FDA in 2012 as a treatment to reduce cholesterol, sales increases were slow but steady. In 2019, when the U.S. regulator signed off on the fish oil as a therapy to reduce cardiovascular risks, sales increased quickly, peaking at $167 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.

But in 2021, the company’s appeal to the Supreme Court to extend its patent protection in the U.S. failed. Then in March of this year, with the company facing pressure from Sarissa, CEO Karim Mikhail resigned.