What happened

Shares of Amarin (AMRN 0.85%) closed 3.9% higher on Tuesday, after there was some good news from across the Atlantic Ocean regarding the only product the company has on the market.

So what

That drug, Vascepa, is used to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks in patients taking statins for cardiovascular conditions. On Tuesday, the European Commission (EC), the executive branch of the European Union, approved the medication, which is sold under the brand name Vazkepa in that market.

Medical professionals talking in a hospital or clinic lobby.

Image source: Getty Images.

According to Amarin's announcement, this allows Vazkepa to be used "to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in high-risk, statin-treated adult patients who have elevated triglycerides ... and either established cardiovascular disease or diabetes and at least one additional cardiovascular risk factor."

Vascepa, initially approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012, has faced challenges in the U.S. market. Last March, Amarin suffered a stinging defeat in a patent infringement lawsuit against generic drugmakers Hikma Pharmaceuticals and Dr. Reddy's Laboratories.

But Amarin will start off in a better position in Europe. As the biotech's chief scientific officer Steven Ketchum was quoted as saying, Vazkepa "offers the first and only EC-approved therapy to reduce cardiovascular risk in high-risk statin-treated patients who have elevated triglycerides." 

Now what

According to Amarin, cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death in the European Union. The EC's approval was expected (hence the modest pop in share price) given the drug's successful history in the U.S. Nevertheless, it opens a vast new market and loads the company with potential.