The recent testing by the Amarin Corp of Vascepa, purified fish oil, in people that have heart disease is a win because this finding has the potential to help almost everyone.
The results for Vascepa found a reduction in the risk of cardiac events, like stroke or heart attack, by 25 percent in those at high risk, which was much higher than what Amarin had anticipated. Add that there were no side effects and it’s very reasonable price this could change how heart disease is handled, and to add to its success could be that health care workers embrace Vascepa rather than hamper its implementation.
All of this could be the reason behind the tripling share prices at Amarin Corp. It was no surprise that Amarin’s product Vascepa was being doubted after being on trial for more than ten years, especially since so many other fish trials have failed. However, the difference with Vascepa seems to be that unlike other products where cholesterol levels are increased it does not increase cholesterol levels.
Amarin claims they were certain that by focusing on patients at high risk that consistently have high triglycerides they would show the advantages of the use of high doses of Vascepa and it seems that is exactly what they have proven.
Drug insurers have approved coverage on a small patient group dealing with high triglycerides and it’s quite possible that coverage will be expanded. In the US cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death. It also has a heavy financial toll on the health care system. According to Amarin, Vascepa has the potential to save lives and money.
Other manufacturers, such as Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and Amgen Inc., have tried to make similar treatment arguments, but they have been unsuccessful, even though these drugs have been able to lower cardiovascular events better than older statins, reducing cardio events significantly in the high risk population. However, because of their list price at launch resulted in substantial restriction of availability by insurers.
Amarin’s statement that the purity of their drug is hard to replicate, the lack of disclosure by Amarin on secondary endpoint data, and the skepticism over previous failures has been a concern by drug insurers. However, this is one of those situations where the impact that Vascepa has on patients may outweigh everything else.
In an industry where gains are usually small and incremental, Vascepa just might break what’s consider industry standard.