Vascepa | icosapent ethyl
Medication Class: Omega-3 fatty acid
Manufactured by: Amarin Pharmaceuticals
Approval Date: July 2012
What is Vascepa and how does it work
Vascepa is essentially purified fish oil. Its active ingredient, icosapent ethyl, is an omega-3 fatty acid derived from eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of “good fat” that reduce triglycerides in the blood. When triglycerides are too high, they can increase the risk of heart disease and pancreatitis. According to the American Heart Association, triglyceride levels should be at or below 100 mg/dL. Vascepa works by decreasing the production and release of triglycerides in the liver and increases clearance of triglycerides from the blood stream.
What does Vascepa treat
Vascepa, in combination with a healthy diet, helps lower triglycerides in adults with severely high triglyceride levels (≥500 mg/dL).
How effective is Vascepa
When Vascepa was studied in adults with severely high triglyceride levels, patients treated with Vascepa saw a reduction in the following markers of “bad cholesterol” when compared to individuals that did not receive Vascepa:
- Median triglyceride levels decreased by 27% versus an increase of 10% for placebo
- Median Total Cholesterol decreased by 7% versus an increase of 8% for placebo
- Median LDL-Cholesterol decreased by 5% versus 3% for placebo
- Median HDL-Cholesterol levels decreased by 4% versus no change for placebo
The reduction in triglycerides seen with Vascepa was not associated with increased LDL-C, which is a key indicator of “bad cholesterol” in the blood.
The effect of Vascepa on the risk of pancreatitis in patients with severely high triglyceride levels has not been determined.
The effect of Vascepa on heart problems in patients with severely high triglyceride levels has not been determined.
What are interesting facts about Vascepa
- The active ingredient, icosapent ethyl is a form of fish oil that has been purified in a lab.
- Fish oil has been used in medicine as far back as the 1700s when it was sold in England as a “miracle cure.”
- Fish oil comes from fatty, cold-water fish.
- Vascepa is the first FDA approved drug produced by Amarin Pharmaceuticals.
- Vascepa is similar to Lovaza, which is also an Omega 3 fatty acid used for patients with high triglyceride levels. However, unlike Lovaza, Vascepa does not increase LDL levels.
- Vascepa should not be taken by people allergic to fish or shellfish.
What are the side effects of Vascepa
Prolonged bleeding time
Patients allergic to fish oil should use Vascepa with caution
How is Vascepa dosed and administered
Vascepa should be taken as two 1 gram capsules twice daily with food (4 grams per day).
What are Vascepa drug interactions
Vascepa was studied with warfarin, atorvastatin, rosiglitazone and omeprazole, which share a similar elimination pathway, and no significant drug interactions were seen.
Omega-3 fatty acids may increase the time it takes for blood to clot, increasing the risk of bleeding. Patients treated with Vascepa who are also taking a medication that increases bleeding should be monitored periodically.
What is the cost of Vascepa
The price of Vascepa 1 gram capsules is between $211 to $264 dollars for 120 capsules. Save on Vascepa prescriptions cost by signing up for the Vascepa Savings Card. Discount coupons are also available form many pharmacies.