There are no generic Vascepa (icosapent ethyl) products available at this time, as the drug is protected by patents that have not yet expired. After the first patent expires in January 2020, companies may decide to make a generic version of this medicine. However, lawsuits, new patents, or various other circumstances may delay the drug's availability.
Can I Buy Generic Vascepa?Vascepa™ (icosapent ethyl) is a prescription medication used to treat extremely high triglycerides. It is made from fish oil and is highly refined to contain a very high percentage of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) by using a chemical reaction that slightly alters the chemical structure of the molecule.
Vascepa is manufactured by Banner Pharmacaps for Amarin Pharma, Inc. It is currently under the protection of a patent that prevents any generic Vascepa from being manufactured in the United States.
When Will a Generic Version Be Available?The first patent for Vascepa is set to expire in January 2020. This is the earliest predictable date that a generic version could become available.
However, other circumstances could come up to delay or shorten the exclusivity period. This could include such things as lawsuits or patents for new Vascepa uses. Once the patent expires, there may be several companies that manufacture a generic Vascepa drug.
Is Fish Oil a Generic for Vascepa?It is important to point out that nonprescription fish oil supplements are not equivalent to Vascepa. Vascepa is one of only a few prescription fish oil medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Some people wonder why they should take Vascepa when there are inexpensive, nonprescription fish oil dietary supplements that seem to be just as good. There are several advantages of Vascepa over these supplements.
Importantly, the over-the-counter supplements usually have a low concentration of EPA, regardless of the strength on the label. This can be misleading; it may take numerous 1000-mg supplement capsules to have the same amount of EPA as a single Vascepa 1000-mg capsule. When this is taken into consideration, much of the cost advantage of the inexpensive supplements is lost.
Perhaps more importantly, dietary supplements are not regulated as strictly as prescription drugs. In fact, they are regulated as foods. This means that some supplements could potentially be contaminated or could have less (or more) of the active ingredients than stated on the label. Vascepa is highly purified and refined, ensuring a safe and pure product.
In addition, many prescription insurance plans cover Vascepa; virtually none cover nonprescription dietary supplements.