Amarin Corporation plc (AMRN 0.85%) could be sitting on a goldmine with its cardiovascular drug Vascepa. But how much gold did the drugmaker actually mine in the first quarter? Investors just got an answer to that question.

The company announced its first-quarter results before the market opened on Wednesday. Here's what you need to know from Amarin's quarterly update.

Physician holding up a pill

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

Amarin announced Q1 revenue of $73.3 million, a 67% increase from the $43.9 million reported in the same quarter of the previous year. The company's reported revenue easily beat the average analysts' revenue estimate of $67.3 million. 

The company announced a GAAP net loss of $24.4 million, or $0.07 per share, in the first quarter. This represented a small deterioration from the loss of $24.1 million, or $0.08 per share, reported in the same quarter of 2018.

How did Amarin's adjusted non-GAAP bottom line look in the first quarter? The company reported an adjusted net loss of $17.5 million, or $0.05 per share, compared to $20.3 million, or $0.07 per share, in the same period in 2018. This beat the average analysts' earnings estimate of a loss of $0.11 per share.

Behind the numbers

The primary driver of Amarin's first-quarter revenue growth was higher prescription volume for Vascepa. Amarin said that prescription growth of the triglyceride-lowering drug rose by 58% in Q1 based on data from Symphony Health, and by 55% based on data from IQVIA.

This growth is especially impressive considering that the first quarter is typically lower due to seasonal factors, notably including the fact that patients' deductibles reset at the beginning of the year. Despite these factors, Vascepa still generated strong sales growth thanks in large part to a big jump in new prescriptions. 

Amarin's bottom line was a little worse than it was in the prior-year period. However, that's understandable, considering that the company spent more on promotional activities for Vascepa. It helped, though, that research and development expenses declined as a result of lowered costs following the completion of the Reduce-It study.

Other key achievements from Amarin's first quarter included:

  • Priority review granted for Vascepa in Canada.
  • Filed for FDA approval of an expanded indication for Vascepa in March based on the positive clinical results from the Reduce-It cardiovascular outcomes study that ended in late 2018.
  • The American Diabetes Association (ADA) incorporated Reduce-It results to update its 2019 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes.

Looking ahead

There are several things that investors can look forward to in the near future. The most important of these is the anticipated FDA approval of the supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for Vascepa based on the Reduce-It cardiovascular outcomes study results. This decision could be handed down by January 2020.

In the meantime, Amarin's investments in beefing up its sales force could begin to pay off. The company more than doubled the size of its U.S. sales team and now has around 400 sales reps in the field. These new reps were trained and deployed by the middle of January. Amarin could see increased sales for Vascepa over the next few quarters as its larger sales team reaches out to healthcare professionals.