Medication Search​ - Vascepa

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How does Vascepa work? What will it do for me?

Icosapent ethyl is a type of omega-3-fatty acid that belongs to the class of medications called lipid-regulating agents. It is used along with a "statin" cholesterol medication to treat people who have high levels of triglycerides in their blood and are at risk of heart complications due to an existing heart condition or diabetes and at least one other heart-related problem.

Icosapent is used to lower the risk of heart complications such as dying from heart disease, heart attack, or stroke; hospitalization for unstable angina; or the need for certain types of heart surgery. The exact way this medication works is not known but it helps to reduce the amount of triglycerides made by the body.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does Vascepa come in?

Each amber-coloured, oblong, soft-gelatin capsule imprinted with VASCEPA, contains 1 g of icosapent. Nonmedicinal ingredients: gelatin, glycerin, Hypromellose, maltitol, propylene glycol, purified water, sorbitol, titanium dioxide, and tocopherol.

How should I use Vascepa?

The recommended adult dose of icosapent is 2 grams (two 1 gram capsules), taken by mouth, two times a day.

Take this medication with food. These capsules should be swallowed whole with some liquid. Do not break open, dissolve, crush, or chew the capsules.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice .

Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take Vascepa?

Do not take this medication if you are allergic to icosapent or any ingredients of the medication.

What side effects are possible with Vascepa?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • constipation
  • swelling of hands, feet, ankles, and lower legs

Although most of the side effects listed below don’t happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • fast, slow, or pounding heartbeat

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of a serious allergic reaction (e.g., abdominal cramps, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, or swelling of the face and throat)
  • signs of bleeding (e.g., nosebleeds, unexplained bruising, black tarry stools)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for Vascepa?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Bleeding: Icosapent has been linked to increased or unexpected bleeding. This side effect is more common for people who take other medications that can cause increased bleeding, such as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), blood thinners, and anti-inflammatory medications (e.g., diclofenac, ibuprofen, ketoprofen). If you notice any signs of bleeding, such as frequent nosebleeds, unexplained bruising, or black and tarry stools, notify your doctor as soon as possible.

Fish/shellfish allergies: Icosapent is a derived from fish. It is not known if people who are allergic to fish or shellfish are at increased risk of allergic reactions to this medication. Inform your doctor if you are allergic to fish or shellfish before taking this medication.

Omega-3 fatty acids: This medication is not the same as other omega-3 fatty acid products or dietary supplements and it should not be taken with these products. If you are taking nutritional supplements or natural health products, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: This medication may pass into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking icosapent, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.

What other drugs could interact with Vascepa?

There may be an interaction between icosapent and any of the following:

  • anticoagulants (e.g., apixaban, edoxaban, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, warfarin)
  • aspirin (ASA)
  • clopidogrel
  • dipyridamole
  • heparin
  • ibrutinib
  • low molecular weight heparins (e.g., dalteparin, enoxaparin, tinzaparin)
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs; e.g., diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen)
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • prasugrel
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs; e.g., citalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline)
  • serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs; e.g., desvenlafaxine, duloxetine, venlafaxine)
  • ticagrelor
  • ticlopidine

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

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