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Amarin Cuts Staff After FDA Panel Scraps Fish-Oil Pill Expansion

Amarin Corp. said it will fire about half of its employees after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel failed to back expanded use of its fish-oil pill Vascepa for those with high levels of fat in their blood.

The panel voted 9-2 on Oct. 16 that Amarin should complete a study on the drug’s heart benefits before it is considered for the 36 million Americans with high triglyceride levels. The Dublin-based company said it is still evaluating its spending priorities and will consider other cost-cutting measures, including ongoing clinical trial expenses. It said it will give more details when it reports earnings next month.

The pill is already approved for people with “severely” high levels of the blood fat, a much smaller pool comprised of about 4 million people, according to company data. Amarin, which has cash and cash equivalents of about $226 million on hand, said it will keep about half its highest performing sales force to pursue further growth in prescription sales of Vascepa in specific geographical locations.

“With this optimization and resulting target base coverage, Amarin anticipates continued Vascepa revenue growth over time,” the company said in a statement. “Given the outcome of the advisory committee meeting, Amarin feels this shift in staffing is the appropriate corporate action.”

The FDA, which isn’t obligated to follow the advisory panel’s recommendation, is scheduled to decide whether to clear the drug for wider use by Dec. 20.

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