icosapent ethyl


eye-koe-sa pent eth-il

Trade Name(s)

  • Vascepa

Ther. Class.
lipid-lowering agents

Pharm. Class.
omega-3 acids


Adjunct in the reduction of triglycerides in adult patients with hypertriglyeridemia (≥500 mg/dL); used in conjuction with diet/exercise.


Decreases hepatic production of triglycerides and increases triglyceride clearance.

Therapeutic Effect(s):

Reduction in triglycerides as part of a program to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.


Absorption: Converted during absorption to the active metabolite eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is then absorbed in the small intestine and enters systemic circulation through the lymphatic system.

Distribution: Most EPA circulates incorporated into phospholipids, triglycerides and cholesteryl esters. Enters breast milk.

Metabolism and Excretion: Mostly metabolized by the liver, some metabolism results in liberation of acetyl Coenzyme A which the Krebs cycle uses to produce energy. No renal elimination.

Half-life: 89 hr.


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Contraindicated in:

  • Hypersensitivity.

Use Cautiously in:

  • Hypersensitivity to fish/shellfish
  • Diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism and excess alcohol intake may ↑ triglycerides and should be managed prior to treatment
  • OB:  Use during pregnancy only if potential maternal benefit outweighs potential risk to fetus
  • Lactation: Use cautiously during lactation
  • Pedi:  Safe and effective use in children has not been established.

Adverse Reactions/Side Effects

Hemat: prolonged bleeding time

MS: arthralgia

* CAPITALS indicate life-threatening.
Underline indicate most frequent.



  •  Beta-blockers,  thiazides and  estrogens may ↑ triglycerides and should be discontinued/changed prior to treatment.
  • May ↑ risk of bleeding with  anticoagulants or  antiplatelet agents.


PO (Adults): 2 g twice daily.


Capsules: 500 mg, 1 g


  • Obtain a dietary history, especially with regard to fat consumption.
  • Assess for allergy to fish and shellfish.

Lab Test Considerations:

Monitor lipid and triglyceride levels prior to and periodically during therapy.

  • Monitor ALT and AST levels periodically in patients with liver impairment.

Potential Diagnoses


  • PO Administer 2 capsules twice daily with food. Swallow capsules whole; do not open, crush, dissolve, or chew.

Patient/Family Teaching

  • Instruct patient to take as directed. Take missed doses as soon as remembered unless almost time for next dose; do not double doses. Do not discontinue without consulting health care professional.
  • Advise patient to eat a well balanced, low fat and low cholesterol diet, exercise regularly, and avoid alcohol intake.
  • Advise patient to notify health care professional of all Rx or OTC medications, vitamins, or herbal products being taken and to consult with health care professional before taking other medications, especially anticoagulants.
  • Advise female patient to notify health care professional if pregnancy is planned or suspected, or if breastfeeding.

Evaluation/Desired Outcomes

Decrease in triglyceride levels.

icosapent ethyl is a sample topic from the Davis's Drug Guide.

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