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The results of a new study are re-igniting a debate among cardiologists as to whether a prescription fish oil product, Vascepa, reduces patients’ risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The study doesn’t test Vascepa, made by Amarin Corp., but another drug called Epanova, which is made by AstraZeneca. But this new trial, called STRENGTH and presented Sunday at the virtual meeting of the American Heart Association, was completely negative, while an earlier trial of Vascepa, called REDUCE-IT, showed that Vascepa reduces heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death by 25%. When a Food and Drug Administration panel voted on whether to give Vascepa a broader approval last year, the vote was unanimous. So many cardiologists are struggling to figure out, what gives?


Understanding the controversy requires eating some alphabet soup. Vascepa is a purified fish-oil derivative high in an omega-3 fatty acid called eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, whereas Epanova combines EPA with another omega-3 fatty acid, also found in fish, called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA.

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