Japanese firm Kowa takes up Vascepa marketing slack

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OPDP joins Amarin's Vascepa tale
Kowa takes up Vascepa marketing slack

Private Japanese company Kowa is bolstering Amarin's sales force by 250, which means that 380 sales reps will now support Amarin's triglyceride medication Vascepa. The drug, indicated for patients with hypertriglyceridemia, has been actively marketed since January 2013.

The last few months have been rocky for the brand, with sore spots including FDA's rejection of Amarin's attempt to expand the drug's indication without a full data set, and a run-in with the agency's bad-ad group over marketing materials for a Vascepa webcast which the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion declared misleading in an untitled letter.

Jefferies analyst Thomas Wei wrote in his April research note that Kowa has not disclosed how many details its sales force will perform, but that it has some first-position details which was “an important selling point for Kowa in winning the Vascepa deal.” Wei also notes that Kowa is picking up the costs of its 250-rep contribution in exchange for a royalty based on gross profits.

The personnel boost offsets Amarin's October shedding of 50% of its staff following the FDA's decision not to approve the expanded indication. Amarin stated in its 2013 earnings release that it shifted its focus to around 7,000 physicians who are responsible for “a significant portion of the prescriptions generated for the leading omega-3 therapy,” for hypertriglyceridemia.

Wei wrote that the Kowa alliance “expands the number of physicians detailed from 23,000 to over 60,000.”

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