Amarin’s launch mode for its prescription Omega-3 drug Vascepa got an additional push Thursday with the launch of its unbranded site LowerMyTrigs.com. The site’s launch builds on a professional marketing push in which 275 Amarin-trained sales reps hit the field when the drug first became commercially available in January.
The site’s kickoff included a press release recapping an Amarin-backed survey that measured the triglyceride awareness of 600 adults. The phone survey was conducted between February and March, and the overall finding was that most of the adults polled lacked heart disease knowledge, including what triglycerides are, whether it is good to have high triglyceride levels, or if LDL was “good” or “bad” cholesterol. Researchers also found that 99% of the surveyed adults did not know that high doses of Omega-3s could lower triglyceride levels.
Triglycerides are fats found in the bloodstream. High levels are associated with heart disease, diabetes and fatty liver disease. Vascepa, like GSK’s Lovaza, includes a form of Omega-3 fatty acids at higher levels than those which occur naturally in fish. Both are currently indicated for patients with triglyceride levels of at least 500mg/dl.
The unbranded consumer site is broken into four categories to walk visitors through the basics: what triglycerides are, managing triglycerides, treatments and resources. It also includes a patient-doctor dialogue guide that prompts patients to ask doctors about their triglyceride levels, tells them how to lower their levels, offers prescription options and lists types of treatments that could be helpful. Visually unbranded content does offer a bridge to prescription information, with in-line “click-here” links under the management and treatments headings. These links carry visitors to Amarin’s branded Vascepa site, which offers the typical drug rundown, information about high triglycerides and a savings program offer.
Triglyceride-lowering treatments have a unique place: although prescription medications like Vascepa are indicated for high triglyceride levels, research has been muddy. For example, a 2012 JAMA-published study that found no clear link between Omega-3 treatments and reduced stroke and heart attack risks has been criticized for sloppy records that make the results questionable. Lack of clarity has not kept drug makers from stepping in, as seen by AstraZeneca’s May move to buy up Omthera’s Epanova. GlaxoSmithKline’s Lovaza saw sales rise 5% to around $948 million last year, but the company noted in its 2012 annual report that it’s essentially holding flat because patients aren’t just visiting the doctor less frequently, doctors are also making fewer screenings for asymptomatic conditions like high triglycerides.
Amarin is looking to expand its indication to include patients with levels in the 200-500 mg/dl range. Jefferies analyst Thomas Wei noted in his Thursday research note that the lower threshold affects ten times the number of patients at the higher indication level. Wei wrote that Amarin expects the FDA to review its application by the end of 2013 and approval could make it the first-in-class fish oil approved for the 200-500 range.