Skeptics worry heart drug is overhyped based on limited info

Biopharmaceutical company Amarin announced top-line results for its purified eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) product in September, hailing the 25 percent risk reduction in a composite of cardiovascular outcomes associated with icosapent ethyl (Vascepa).

The announcement—perhaps justifiably so—drew headlines from media organizations around the country (including Cardiovascular Business). But critics who commented on the results to Kaiser Health News worried the excitement over the trial is premature.

The partial results, while positive, don’t specify whether specific patient subgroups benefitted more or less from the medication, and which components of the primary endpoint were reduced—and by how much. With REDUCE-IT’s composite outcome of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, stroke, coronary revascularization or unstable angina requiring hospitalization, some components should be considered more important than others.

“People are weighing in with really strong language, without enough information,” Lisa Schwartz, MD, MS, co-director of the Dartmouth Institute’s Center for Medicine and Media, told KHN.

That hasn’t stopped Amarin’s stock from jumping from $3 to $20 per share in wake of the announcement, KHN reported.

Amarin’s release of top-line results is consistent with marketing strategies employed by other drug companies, and CEO John Thero said the unveiling of the complete findings at this weekend’s American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Chicago should address critics’ concerns.

Read more from KHN below: