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Amarin's Fish Oil Pill Faces Even More Exclusivity Risks

Generic drug companies don't market their products, but in this case, Amarin would be doing the marketing for them.

If you think through this scenario, it helps explain why Amarin was never acquired early on, and why the company was forced to launch Vascepa on its own. Big Pharma makes many mistakes, but one area where big drug companies excel is figuring out intellectual property and marketing exclusivity issues. Crucial for determining the real value of a pharmaceutical asset.

My investor source believes Big Pharma determined early on that Vascepa's copycat active moiety and overlapping initial approval (relative to Lovaza) make it too easy for a generic copy to undercut the market. Amarin's still has Vascepa patents in place for protection, of course, but generic drug makers could figure out a way to work around the patents or get them invalidated by the courts.

For Big Pharma, these risks are too high, which is why Amarin's troubles aren't going away, even if Vascepa wins an expanded label later this year.

One more thing: Total Vascepa prescriptions for the week ended April 12, totaled 1,870, up 15% from the week of April 5, according to IMS Health. Amarin's slow Vascepa launch continues.

-- Reported by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.
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