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Generic Name:

icosapent-ethyl, Oral capsule

All Brands

  • VASCEPA
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for icosapent-ethyl

Oral capsule
1

Icosapent ethyl is used to lower triglyceride levels in adults who have very high levels of this type of lipid (fat) in their blood.

2

This medication is available as a brand-name drug called Vascepa. It’s not available as a generic drug.

3

Icosapent ethyl is used in addition to a diet and exercise plan to help reduce triglyceride levels.

4

Icosapent comes in the form of a soft-gelatin capsule you take by mouth. The capsule shouldn’t be opened, crushed, or chewed.

5

The more common side effects of icosapent ethyl can include joint pain and mouth or throat pain.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Fish allergy

This drug is derived from fish. It should be used with caution in people with known fish or shellfish allergies. Talk with your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

What is icosapent ethyl?

This drug is a prescription drug. It’s available as a brand-name drug called Vascepa. It’s not available as a generic drug.

This drug comes in the form of a soft-gelatin capsule you take by mouth.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat hypertriglyceridemia (high levels of triglycerides, or fats, in the blood). High triglyceride levels can lead to heart problems such as heart attack. Extremely high triglyceride levels can cause inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called omega-3 fatty acids. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called omega-3 fatty acids. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

This drug is a form of an omega-3 fatty acid called eicosopentaenoic acid (EPA). It works by reducing the amount of triglycerides the body makes. It also helps remove existing triglycerides from the blood.

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SECTION 2 of 5

icosapent-ethyl Side Effects

Oral capsule

Most Common Side Effects

The more common side effects of icosapent ethyl can include:

  • joint pain
  • mouth or throat pain

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug doesn’t cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

icosapent-ethyl May Interact with Other Medications

Oral capsule

Icosapent ethyl can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Alcohol interaction

Drinking too much alcohol can increase triglyceride levels. This can reduce the benefits of icosapent ethyl.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Blood-thinning drugs

Icosapent ethyl may cause changes in how fast your blood can clot. If you’re taking other drugs that help prevent blood clots, icosapent ethyl may increase the effect of the blood-thinning drugs. Examples of these blood-thinning drugs include:

  • warfarin
  • dabigatran
  • rivaroxaban
  • edoxaban
  • apixaban
  • dipyridamole
  • aspirin
  • clopidogrel
  • prasugrel
  • cangrelor
  • ticagrelor
  • ticlopidine
  • cilostazol
  • vorapaxar

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
liver disease
People with liver disease

This drug can increase enzymes that are produced by your liver. Increased enzyme levels are a sign of liver damage. Your doctor will check your level of these liver enzymes regularly.

fish or shellfish allergy
People with fish or shellfish allergy

This drug’s active ingredient comes from the oil of fish. If you have an allergy to fish or shellfish, you may have an allergic reaction to this drug.

Pregnant women
Pregnant women

This drug is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

breast-feeding
Women who are breast-feeding

This drug may pass into breast milk. However, its effect on a child who is breast-fed is unknown.

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

For seniors
For seniors

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

For children
For children

This medication hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

call the doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

allergies
Allergies

This drug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue

If you have a reaction, call your doctor or the local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it a second time could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take icosapent-ethyl (Dosage)

Oral capsule

What are you taking this medication for?

High triglyceride levels

Brand: Vascepa

Form: oral capsule
Strengths: 1 g
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years):

The typical dose is 2 capsules twice per day.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years):

This medication hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older):

Older adults may be more sensitive to the effects of medications. Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different medication schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug or don’t take it at all

Your triglyceride levels will remain high. If your triglyceride level is high, you can have serious complications. These include heart problems and a condition called pancreatitis. These complications can be fatal (cause death).

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • diarrhea
  • bruising

If you think you’ve taken too much of the drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

You may not be able to tell whether this drug is working or not. Your doctor will check your triglyceride level regularly. They will decide if the drug is working or if you need to be switched to a different medication.

This drug is used for long-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking this drug
should take this drug with food
You should take this drug with food
timimg icon
Take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor
Store this drug carefully
Store this drug carefully
See Details
Prescription is refillable
A prescription for this medication is refillable
See Details
When traveling with your medication
Travel
See Details
Clinical Monitoring
Clinical monitoring
See Details
Not Usually Stocked
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead
Insurance
Insurance
See Details

Store this drug carefully

  • Store this drug at room temperature. Keep it at a temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

When traveling with your medication

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor will monitor your triglyceride level. This will help make sure your level is within the range your doctor feels is best for you. It will also tell if your medication is working.

This monitoring is done using a fasting lipid test. You may have this test every 3 months after starting treatment with this drug. Once your triglyceride levels become stable, you may have this test once per year.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor will need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does icosapent-ethyl Cost?

Oral capsule

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Lowest price for icosapent-ethyl

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for icosapent-ethyl on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on October 2, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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