EMA has confirmed that omega-3 fatty acid medicines containing a combination of an ethyl ester of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) at a dose of 1 g per day are not effective in preventing further problems with the heart and blood vessels in patients who have had a heart attack. This is the outcome of a re-examination requested by some of the companies that market the medicines concerned, following EMA’s original recommendation in December 2018.

This means that these medicines should no longer be used in this way. However, they can still be used to reduce levels of certain types of blood fat called triglycerides.

Omega-3 fatty acid medicines have been authorised for use after a heart attack, in combination with other medicines, in several EU countries since 2000, at a dose of 1 g per day. At the time of their authorisation, available data showed some benefits in reducing serious problems with the heart and blood vessels.

EMA’s committee for human medicines, CHMP, has re-assessed the evidence accumulated over the years on these medicines for this specific use and consulted additional experts in the field. It concluded that, although there are no new safety concerns, the effectiveness of these medicines in preventing recurrence of problems with the heart and blood vessels has not been confirmed.

EMA concluded that the marketing authorisations of these medicines should be updated to remove this use.

Posted on the EMA website on 29 March 2019