The Nation's Health + Lovaza

No more Lovaza

That's it: I will NEVER ever write another prescription for Lovaza.

I actually very rarely write a prescription for Lovaza, i.e., prescription fish oil. But this was the last straw.

I advised a patient that we've had good success using high-doses of fish oil to reduce lipoprotein(a), Lp(a). 6000 mg per day of the omega-3 component (EPA + DHA) from fish oil reduces Lp(a) in 60% of people after one year. (Recall that Lp(a) is the most aggressive known lipid-related cause of heart disease.)

The two preparations I generally suggest are either the very affordable Sam's Club Members Mark Triple-Strength Fish Oil with 900 mg EPA + DHA per capsule: 7 capsules per day. Another great product (my personal favorite because of its extreme purity--it doesn't even smell like fish oil): Pharmax Finest Pure Fish Oil with 1800 mg EPA + DHA per teaspoon: 3 to 3 1/2 teaspoons per day.

Both preparations work great and are quite affordable, given the high dose. For the Sam's Club preparation, it will cost around $30 per month, while the Pharmax liquid will run around $49 per month.

Well, the woman's husband insisted on a prescription for Lovaza. One Lovaza capsule contains 784 mg EPA + DHA per capsule: 7 to 8 capsules per day.

Here are some prices for Lovaza from online pharmacy discounters:
Prescription Giant: $78.99 for 30 capsules ($2.63 per capsule)
Planet Drugs Direct: $135 for 100 capsules ($1.35 per capsule)

These are lower than the prices I obtained in past by calling local pharmacies in my area, quite a bit lower, in fact.

Filling the Lovaza prescription at Prescription Giant will therefore cost $552.93 to $631.92 per month; at Planet Drugs Direct it will cost $283.50 to $324.00 per month. At local pharmacies, a similar 7 to 9 capsules Lovaza per day will cost upwards of $800 to $900 per month.

The patient's husband insisted on the Lovaza prescription because he knew that his insurance would cover it. When I pointed out that this was a large cost that would have to be borne by others in their healthcare premiums, he said that didn't matter to him.

I hesitated, but ended up writing the prescription for 7 Lovaza capsules per day. As soon as I handed to him, I regretted it. In fact, I am embarassed and angry at myself for having given in.

So I vowed: I will NEVER EVER write another prescription for Lovaza.

I do not believe that we should spread the excessive profiteering of the pharmaceutical industry around on the backs of people who pay their healthcare insurance premiums, just so that a few people, like this selfish couple, can save a few dollars a month.

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