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Amarin Fish-Oil Drug Approved for Sale in US


Analysts say the treatment could be a blockbuster product. Horizon Pharma also wins approval for its rheumatoid arthritis drug.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Amarin's (AMRN) heart drug made from fish oil won approval for sale in the US, giving the company a product that may attract takeover offers.

On a conference call Thursday night, Amarin CEO Joseph Zakrzewski said a takeover of the company is one of three options going forward for the company. Amarin will either launch the drug, called Vascepa, on its own, partner with another company to help market the product, or sell the entire company to a rival.

"We believe all three of these paths can lead to success," he said.

If it sells the drug on its own, Amarin would hire 200 to 300 salespeople later this year, Zakrzewski said. The drug would hit the market in 2013.

In premarket trading Friday, the American shares of the Irish drug company fell more than 7%. The stock rose to $15.31 before it was halted Thursday afternoon. The shares more than doubled this year on hope for drug approval.

Some analysts believe that Amarin's drug will eventually be a blockbuster product that takes sales from GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) Lovaza. A recent survey by Leerink Swann found a number of doctors who said they were enthusiastic about prescribing Amarin's pill.

The Amarin drug aims to lower triglycerides, a type of fat, in the blood. While the Glaxo drug is designed to do the same thing, Lovaza raises levels of bad cholesterol in some patients. Amarin's drug doesn't have that side effect. The pill is more potent and pure than over-the-counter fish-oil products.

Amarin was one of two biotech companies expecting decisions from the FDA Thursday. Horizon Pharma (HZNP) also won approval to sell a drug, Rayos, for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. (See Amarin, Horizon Pharma Build Momentum as Drug Approvals Near.)

Rayos is a delayed-release version of the steroid prednisone. The drug is approved in Europe where it is sold as Lodotra. Partner Mundipharma has sales rights for the drug in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Shares of Horizon fell 14% in premarket trading Friday. The shares traded at $7.64 before being halted just before US markets closed Thursday.

Twitter: @brettchase

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