Amarin shares plunge on decision to hire own sales force for Vascepa launch


Amarin Corp (NASDAQ:AMRN) shares plunged Friday, a day after the company said it will hire its own sales force in the US to launch its new cholesterol-reducing pill Vascepa, straying from investor expectations for the company to launch the drug with a partner. 

The initial commercial launch of Vascepa is planned for early in the first quarter of next year, with the company planning to hire between 250 to 300 specialty sales professionals for the launch. 

Amarin's goal is for every sales representative hired to have, at a minimum, three to five year existing relationships with the identical physician groups Amarin will be calling on and educating about Vascepa, it said. 

In addition to this, the company has been focused on finalizing the introduction of Vascepa to managed care plans, building up inventory levels, and hiring key personnel, as well as developing consumer advertising strategies and other pre-launch marketing activities. 

The decision to hire its own sales force was made after the company also considered an acquisition of Amarin or a strategic collaboration. 

Separately, the company also announced Thursday a $100 million non-equity financing with an investment fund managed by Pharmakon Advisors. Payments by Amarin under this hybrid debt-like instrument are expected to be made over a 3.5-year period beginning in November 2013, and to continue through early 2017.

"This transaction provides Amarin with non-dilutive capital that will ensure our ability to fully execute on the Vascepa product launch while continuing our strategic partnership discussions," said chairman and CEO, Joseph Zakrzewski. 

"This innovative transaction allows maximum flexibility for Amarin."

The biopharmaceutical company is focused on the commercialization and development of therapeutics to improve cardiovascular health. Vascepa is a patented, ultra pure omega-3 fatty acid product.

Shares in Amarin fell more than 18 per cent Friday afternoon, to $9.70. 

Quick facts: Amarin

Price: 5.06 USD

Market: NASDAQ
Market Cap: $1.82 billion

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