With Vascepa sales tanking, Amarin cuts US head count by 65%, replaces CFO

After repeatedly saying words to the effect of “We got this,” regarding a key patent loss, Amarin is signaling defeat in its attempts to keep its heart-helping drug Vascepa viable against generic competition in the U.S.

On Monday, the Dublin-based company revealed it will slash its workforce in the U.S. by 65% in a restructuring plan. The move comes less than nine months after Amarin unveiled a plan to cut its U.S. workforce from 750 reps to 300 and shift its focus to digital marketing.

Monday’s action, Amarin said, now leaves it with 90% fewer U.S. employees than it had pre-pandemic and before it faced the prospect of early generic competition. The reductions will leave Amarin with a 40% smaller workforce globally and will save Amarin $100 million over the next 12 months, the company said.

“While we continue to see value in branded Vascepa in the U.S., the current operating landscape remains challenging with uncertainty related to future revenue from the U.S. business,” Amarin CEO Karim Mikhail said in a release.

In a separate announcement, Amarin said it had hired a new chief financial officer, Tom Reilly, to replace Michael Kalb, who leaves “to pursue other interests,” according to the company.

Reilly arrives after filling the same role at Cara Therapeutics. Prior to that, Reilly was the head of finance for U.S. general medicines at Allergan. That was following 14 years at Novartis.

The changes come after Amarin’s management team and board conducted a “comprehensive cost and organizational restructuring plan to address current shifts within the company’s U.S. business,” Mikhail said in the release.

A month ago, Amarin reported $96 million in first quarter sales of Vascepa, a 33% plunge from the same period in 2021. During the quarter, Amarin began taking on a third generic competitor in the U.S. The company said that it has had to slash prices to compete with the generics.

Vescepa, a fish oil extract, won its original FDA approval in 2012 to reduce triglyceride levels in adults with severe hypertriglyceridemia. Then in 2019, Amarin won a coveted label expansion to include high-risk patients with persistent cardiovascular risks.  

The med got off to a strong start in that launch, raking in $598 million in 2020, a 40% jump from the year before. But in late 2020, Hikma’s generic entered the market after Amarin lost a key patent appeal.