Icosapent Ethyl (Oral)

Overview

Found in the blood, triglycerides are required in order for cells to function properly. Whilst triglycerides are taken up by tissues and cells and used to produce energy, they can also be stored as fat. If patients have high levels of triglycerides, it can cause them to suffer serious health problems.

Often associated with an increased risk of heart disease, strokes and heart attacks, high triglyceride levels can be extremely harmful in both the long and short-term. As well as carrying their own health risks, high levels of triglycerides are often accompanied by low levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL). Also known as the 'good type' of cholesterol, levels tend to fall when the body is spending too much time trying to expel excess triglycerides from the patient's system.

Although high triglyceride levels can be caused by a poor diet, they are also associated with various health conditions. Patients with lipoprotein lipase deficiency, familial combined hyperlipidemia, type 3 hyperlipidemia and/or pre-diabetes, can all increase the risk of having high triglycerides.

When patients take Icosapent Ethyl, however, their liver produces fewer triglycerides and, therefore, their levels should begin to fall. As a derivative of omega-3, it can also help to increase the rate at which triglycerides are cleared from the body.

Whilst Icosapent Ethyl can be used to successfully lower triglyceride levels, it is most effective when used in conjunction with a low-fat diet. As high triglyceride levels can increase the patient's risk of serious cardiac event, taking Icosapent Ethyl may help to reduce the patient's risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack in the future.

Conditions Treated

  • High levels of triglycerides in the blood

Type Of Medicine

  • Derivative of omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

Side Effects

When patients take medication, it's not unusual for them to experience some side effects. In most cases, if patients experience side effects when taking Icosapent Ethyl, they will occur when patients first start taking the medication. After a time, however, these side effects tend to diminish.

If patients exhibit the following adverse effects when taking Icosapent Ethyl, they may want to seek medical advice:

  • Pain in the joints
  • Muscle stiffness or pain
  • Difficulty with moving
  • Pain in the throat or mouth

Generally, the above side effects are fairly mild and are not particularly troublesome to patients. However, if patients are affected by serious side effects or are concerned about the presence of adverse effects when taking Icosapent Ethyl, they should always seek medical help.

Dosage

When patients are prescribed Icosapent Ethyl, their doctor will tell them how much medicine they should take and when they should take it. In addition to this, the patient's physician may instruct them to make dietary changes whilst taking Icosapent Ethyl as this can help to reduce their triglyceride levels.

In most cases, adult patients are advised to take two Icosapent Ethyl capsules, twice per day. Each capsule normally contains 1g of Icosapent Ethyl, so patients are generally advised to take 4g of Icosapent Ethyl per day.

Although this is a standard dosing regime for treatment with Icosapent Ethyl, patients should always follow their doctor's instructions when taking this medication. Furthermore, patients may be prescribed Icosapent Ethyl capsules which are stronger or less potent than the standard 1g capsules and their dose may, therefore, be modified.

Patients are normally advised to take Icosapent Ethyl capsules with food and should not attempt to break, chew, dissolve, crush or open the capsule. Instead, the capsule should be swallowed whole with water.

When taking Icosapent Ethyl capsules, it's important that patients adhere to a regular dosing schedule. However, if patients forget to take a dose of Icosapent Ethyl, they should take it as soon as they remember to do so. If their next dose is almost due, patients should skip the missed dose and continue with their normal treatment schedule. It is not appropriate to take a double dose of Icosapent Ethyl, even if an earlier dose has been missed.

If patients are unsure how to take this medicine or when they should take Icosapent Ethyl capsules, they should seek advice from their pharmacist or physician.

Potential Drug Interactions

If patients take or use more than one medication at a time, there is a chance that an interaction may occur. As these interactions can be harmful to the patient in some cases, doctors may advise them not to use certain medications together.

Before taking Icosapent Ethyl capsules, patients should tell their doctor if they are taking any other medicines. This includes prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines, supplements and/or vitamins. Their physician will then be able to confirm whether it's safe for them to proceed with Icosapent Ethyl treatment.

In addition to this, patients will need to obtain medical advice before taking any new medicines, supplements or vitamins once they have started taking Icosapent Ethyl capsules.

The following medications may affect the patient's use of Icosapent Ethyl capsules:

  • Estrogens
  • Thiazides
  • Beta blockers

Warnings

If patients have any existing medical conditions, it may affect their use of Icosapent Ethyl. Similarly, their medical history could affect their treatment with Icosapent Ethyl. Due to this, patients should disclose their medical history to their physician before taking Icosapent Ethyl and should tell them if they are due to undergo any diagnostic procedures in the near future. The following conditions can be particularly relevant if treatment with Icosapent Ethyl capsules is being considered:

  • Liver problems
  • Diabetes
  • Underactive thyroid (Hypothyroidism)
  • Allergy to shellfish or fish
  • Kidney problems

Currently, there is no specific data to determine whether Icosapent Ethyl poses a risk to pediatric patients. Due to this, infants and children are not usually prescribed this medication.

Although Icosapent Ethyl is not thought to pose a particular risk to the geriatric population, older patients may be more sensitive to the effects of this medicine.

When patients are taking Icosapent Ethyl capsules, they should have regular consultations with their physician. In addition to this, patients will need to have blood tested at regular intervals to determine whether the medication is working and whether the level of triglycerides in their blood has dropped.

If patients have existing kidney problems, they may also need to have their Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) and Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) levels checked whilst they are taking Icosapent Ethyl capsules.

Drinking or consuming alcohol may cause the patient to develop lipid disorders. Patients should, therefore, discuss their alcohol usage with their doctor before taking Icosapent Ethyl capsules.

If Icosapent Ethyl capsules are taken by pregnant patients, they could cause harm to the unborn fetus. Due to this, Icosapent Ethyl should not be prescribed to pregnant patients unless the benefits greatly outweigh the potential risks.

It is not known whether Icosapent Ethyl can be passed on to an infant via breastfeeding or whether the medicine could cause harm to an infant if it was transferred in this way. Due to this, patients are normally advised not to breastfeed when taking Icosapent Ethyl capsules and should seek medical advice before resuming breastfeeding once their treatment has been completed.

Before patients being taking Icosapent Ethyl, they should inform their doctor if they have any existing allergies or if they have ever suffered an allergic reaction. This includes allergies to medicines, foods, dyes, drinks, preservatives and/or animals. Although rare, patients may experience an allergic reaction when taking Icosapent Ethyl. If so, they may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rash on the skin
  • Hoarseness
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Welts
  • Swelling of the face, hands, lips, mouth, tongue and/or throat

As an allergic reaction can be life-threatening, patients will need emergency medical treatment if they exhibit these symptoms when taking Icosapent Ethyl capsules.

Storage

As patients are normally advised to take Icosapent Ethyl more than once per day, they will usually need to keep a supply of their medicine at home. When storing Icosapent Ethyl, however, patients should ensure that it is kept away from children and/or pets and that no one else can access it.

Patients should adhere to the medication guide when storing Icosapent Ethyl but these capsules can normally be kept at room temperature, providing they remain in a closed container. Patients should also keep Icosapent Ethyl capsules away from moisture, heat and direct light when storing them.

If patients are instructed to stop taking Icosapent Ethyl or if the medicine reaches its use-by date, patients will need to dispose of it. Instead of throwing Icosapent Ethyl capsules out with regular household waste, patients should contact their physician's office or pharmacy and make use of a designated medicine disposal service.

Summary

When patients are first diagnosed with high triglyceride levels, their doctor may advise them to make dietary changes in order to reduce the amount of triglycerides in their blood. If their levels are very high or if dietary changes fail to have a positive impact, however, Icosapent Ethyl may be prescribed.

When used alongside a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet, Icosapent Ethyl can successfully lower the patient's triglyceride levels and can help to reduce their risk of experiencing additional health problems as a result.