Vascepa is a type of medication used in treating certain lipid disorders specifically hypertriglyceridemia. This medication has the active ingredient icosapent ethyl, a highly purified form of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is derived from fish.

It is categorized as a miscellaneous antihyperlipidemic agent, also referred to as omega-3 fatty acid obtained from a fish.

When combined with other medications like statins, Vascepa can be used to reduce the risk of heart problems in adults such as heart attack and stroke.

Triglycerides are fats that circulate in our blood. When the levels of Triglycerides are high in blood they narrow and harden arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Vascepa controls the level of triglycerides in the blood by stopping the liver from manufacturing more Triglycerides. Reduced blood triglyceride levels lower the risk of cardiovascular problems.

The Omega-3 fatty acids found in Vascepa also help to stop clumping together of platelet cells. This prevents the formation of blood clots in blood vessels hence reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Vascepa Precautions and Warnings

  • Atrial Fibrillation: Vascepa may induce atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. If you have previously experienced AFib or AFL, taking Vascepa may potentially elevate the risk of developing the disease.
  • Shellfish or Fish Allergy: If you have an allergy to fish or shellfish inform your doctor before taking the medication because Vascepa is made of fish oil, and is unknown if it can cause allergic reactions in patients.
  • Liver Conditions: Patients having pre-existing liver problems may experience worsening of their conditions after taking Vascepa.
  • Bleeding: The medication is associated with a heightened risk of bleeding. If you experience any signs of bleeding such as nose bleeding and prolonged bleeding following minor injuries or cuts, discontinue the medication and seek medical assistance.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Avoid taking Vascepa if you are pregnant or breastfeeding because it is unknown if the medication can cause harm to the fetus or pass to the milk.

Side Effects of Vascepa

Just like any other medication, Vascepa may cause adverse side effects after taking it. The side effects can be mild or severe. Familiarizing yourself with the potential effects can help you to monitor and manage adverse reactions effectively.

Common Side Effects

  • Constipation
  • Mouth or throat pain
  • Joint pain
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Pain in your bones and muscles
  • Swelling of your feet, hands, and legs.
  • Dizziness

Severe Side Effects

  • Gout
  • Serious bleeding
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in your urine or stool
  • Allergic reactions

Drug Interactions With Vascepa

The potential drug interaction of Vascepa with other medicines may lead to adverse effects or diminish its therapeutic effects. By recognizing these interactions doctors can prevent potential harm and improve patient outcomes.

Drug Interaction
AspirinThe interaction between blood thinners like aspirin and Vascepa can increase the risk of bleeding. This may cause side effects such as heartburn, stomach upset, hemorrhage stroke, and gastrointestinal bleeding.
HeparinCombining heparin and Vascepa may cause adverse side effects such as prolonged bleeding from minor injuries, nosebleeds, and bruising.
AtorvastatinUsing atorvastatin concurrently with Vascepa can have synergistic effects in reducing cardiovascular risk. However, it may have negative effects such as muscle pain, rhabdomyolysis, and liver enzyme abnormalities.
WarfarinConcurrent use of warfarin and Vascepa has blood clotting effects and can increase the risk of bleeding accompanied by side effects such as nose bleeding and prolonged bleeding from cuts or injuries.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) e.g. ibuprofenUsing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen while on Vascepa can cause kidney damage or gastrointestinal bleeding with side effects like ulcers and kidney problems.
FluoxetineThe combination of these two medicines increases the risk of bleeding events due to their effects on serotonin levels.

Strengths and Dosages of Vascepa

Age  Dosing No. of Times a Day
AdultsFour 0.5 g or two 1 gOnce per day

Take the medication as a whole, and avoid crushing, breaking, or chewing it. Vascepa should be ingested after you have eaten your food.

Taking Vascepa at the same time every day is beneficial in sustaining a consistent level of the medication in your system, which helps in optimizing its effectiveness.

It is essential to adhere to your doctor’s instructions on the label. Avoid altering your dosage unless you are instructed to do so by your doctor.

Cost of Vascepa in America?

The supply of 240 capsules of 0.5g of Vascepa is approximately $446. This price can change depending on the pharmacy you go to, and is usually applicable for customers paying in cash and may not be valid with insurance plans.

Why is Vascepa so Expensive?

Vascepa is viewed as a highly effective treatment option for managing conditions like hypertriglyceridemia and has significant clinical benefits. Its ability to address specific medical needs and improve individuals’ outcomes contributes to its perceived value and justifies its high price.

Manufacturing Vascepa requires significant costs for its research and development. A lot of money is spent funding its extensive clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy for the drug to pass the strict regulatory approval process. These charges contribute to the overall cost of the medication.

Vascepa Alternatives

Vascepa has emerged as a widely recognized medication for managing elevated triglyceride levels. However, exploring alternative medications remains essential to help patients and healthcare providers make informed decisions regarding treatment strategies tailored to individual needs and preferences.

Vascepa FAQs

What is Vascepa used for?

Vascepa is primarily used for managing high levels of triglycerides in the blood, a condition known as hypertriglyceridemia.

What is a good over-the-counter substitute for Vascepa?

There is no direct over-the-counter drug substitute for Vascepa but omega-3 fatty acid supplements, Zetia, niacor, and fish oil supplements are available and may offer similar benefits.

When will generic Vascepa be available?

The generic version of Vascepa was introduced by Apotex in January 2022.

What is the generic for Vascepa?

Vascepa is currently available as a generic known as icosapent ethyl.

Who makes Vascepa?

Vascepa is manufactured by Amarin Corporation, an emerging pharmaceutical company dedicated to advancing therapeutics aimed at improving cardiovascular health.

What happens if you stop taking Vascepa?

Stopping Vascepa use does not result in any withdrawal symptoms.

How long does Vascepa stay in your system?

The medication has a half-life of 89 hours. Essentially, the drug will take about three weeks to clear from your system.

How is Vascepa different from fish oil?

Unlike supplemental fish oil which contains both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), Vascepa only contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

What should I avoid when taking Vascepa?

You should avoid consuming foods high in fats or cholesterol when taking the medication, because it may reduce its effectiveness in lowering cholesterol levels.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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