The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of omega-3 containing drug Vascepa (icosapent ethyl) as a complimentary preventative measure against heart attacks, strokes and death in patients at high cardiovascular risk.

Vascepa’s active ingredient is the omega-3 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, sourced from fish oil.

Produced by Amarin, Vascepa will now be able to be deployed as an adjunctive (secondary) therapy to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events among adults with elevated levels of triglyceride, a type of blood fat.

High in Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), it is the first FDA-approved drug approved to reduce cardiovascular risk among patients with elevated triglyceride levels to be deployed to complement maximally tolerated statin therapy.

Statins are drugs used to treat elevated cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular events.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States.

EPA and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), another omega-3 source, are found in oily fish. They both may help reduce inflammation and risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

“The FDA recognizes there is a need for additional medical treatments for cardiovascular disease,” said John Sharretts, acting deputy director of the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

A number of prescription-strength omega-3 fatty acids are available in the market. These include:

  • Epanova (omega-3-carboxylic acids). This contains a combination of EPA and DHA.
  • Lovaza (omega-3-acid ethyl esters). This contains a combination of EPA and DHA.
  • Omtryg: (omega-3-acid ethyl esters). This contains a combination of EPA and DHA.
  • Vascepa (icosapent ethyl). This contains EPA only.