BioWorld International Correspondent
LONDON - Amarin Corp. plc is adding Dublin and London to its Nasdaq listing in a bid to attract European institutional investors in the buildup to completing Phase III development of Miraxion in Huntington's disease.
"We have been looking at this for some time," Alan Cooke, chief financial officer told BioWorld International. "There is no intention to use the new listings to raise money, and we expect the liquidity to remain on Nasdaq, but we would like to broaden our shareholder base beyond U.S. institutions."
The managers of Amarin own 33 percent of the company, and Cooke said that while none of them have sold any shares in the past three to four years, they have signed a lockup, agreeing not to sell shares for six months following the new listings.
Amarin chose to list on the Alternative Investment Market in London, as the most successful and liquid junior market in the world, and on the IEX market in Dublin for the convenience of its Irish investors. "Over the past 12 months, Amarin has raised $50 million, a reasonable proportion of which has come from private Irish investors," Cooke said.
The Irish connection arises because Amarin previously had a strategic partnership in Parkinson's disease with Elan Corp. plc, licensing U.S. rights to Permax and Zelpar from the Dublin-based drug delivery company. Amarin subsequently sold those assets to Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc., in order to settle its financial obligations to Elan. Tom Lynch, former chief financial officer of Elan, is nonexecutive chairman of Amarin and owns 12 percent of the shares; other former Elan employees now work for Amarin.
Amarin is in the process also of closing its headquarters in London and its R&D facility in Stirling, Scotland, and amalgamating the two at a new site in Oxford. That cost-cutting move severs Amarin's last tie to Laxdale Ltd., which it acquired two years ago to get full rights to Miraxion. Laxdale's assets came from Scotia Holdings plc, the quoted lipid specialist that folded when its lead photodynamic therapy product failed to get U.S. approval.
Of the $50 million raised recently, Amarin still had $33 million as of March 31. Cooke said that would fund the company to the fourth quarter of 2007, "assuming there is no partnering revenue." However, the company is looking to license Miraxion in severe depression, where it is in Phase II, and Cooke said the company is in talks with potential U.S. partners.
The U.S. Phase III trial of Miraxion in Huntington's disease, being conducted under a special protocol assessment, is due to complete recruitment by the middle of this year, while the counterpart European trial will be fully enrolled by the end of 2006. If positive, the two trials would support U.S and European marketing applications.
Since the last fund raising in December 2005, Amarin's share price has doubled, closing at $2.34 on June 9. Cooke said that was driven by news including positive preclinical data on Miraxion in treating Parkinson's disease, agreeing to a license with MultiCell Technologies Inc. for LAX-202 in treating fatigue suffered by multiple sclerosis patients, and the in-licensing of a Parkinson's disease treatment.