Sarissa's overhaul of Amarin's board is complete with resignation of 7 holdover members

Days after shareholders of Amarin sided with activist investor Sarissa Capital, removing Chairman Per Wold-Olsen and adding seven new members to its board in a resounding vote, the troubled Irish pharma has announced that seven of its holdover members have resigned.

The departures of Adam Berger, Erin Enright, Geraldine Murphy, Kristine Peterson, Murray Stewart, Jan van Heek and Alfonso “Chito” Zulueta are to avoid “further proxy contests,” Amarin said, in an 8-K filing.  

The resignations came a week after Alex Denner-led Sarissa boasted of a proxy win by a “huge landslide,” claiming nearly 80% support from shareholders.

“Amarin shareholders have strongly backed Sarissa and its slate of directors and we are stepping down to allow Sarissa, as it has requested, to gain immediate control of the company,” the departing board members said in a statement.

The spat became increasingly public after Sarissa became Amarin’s top shareholder a year ago and tried to secure representation on the board. Amarin resisted, attempting to quell the uprising by using an independent search firm to add six new board members.

Sarissa called the board refreshment process a “sham,” while Amarin countered that the investor had “no plan and no new ideas.”

Amarin has been in free-fall since losing patent protection in the U.S. for its lone commercial product, Vascepa. The fish oil derivative hit the market in 2012 to lower triglyceride levels in adults with severe hypertriglyceridemia.

In 2019, Vascepa gained a coveted label expansion to treat patients at risk for cardiovascular issues. The following year, it generated $598 million in sales in the U.S., a 40% increase from the previous year.

But, in late 2020, Amarin was dealt a blow when it lost an appeal to retain its patent protections on the drug. Since then, Vascepa sales have plummeted, and the company has reduced its staff in the U.S. by 90%, turning its attention to Europe.

Last week, when Amarin reported revenue of $367 million for 2022, a fall from $580 million in 2021, the company claimed that it was a “year of significant progress" in its attempts to become a "global, diversified cardiometabolic player."

As for Sarissa, this is not the first time the Connecticut-based company has overhauled the board of a company in the industry. In 2021, it compelled Alkermes to allow it to name a new director of its board. Before that, Denner tussled with management at IronwoodBiogenVivusAllergan and Ariad.