There is a prescription fish oil pill.
It’s called Lovaza. You may have seen the TV commercial. Outside the US, this drug is called Omacor.
It is the first and only FDA-approved fish oil derived prescription drug.
Lovaza is used to treat high triglycerides.
Triglycerides are fats found in your body. Calories that are not burned immediately by the body is converted to triglycerides and stored in fat cells. In between meals, when your body needs energy, it uses triglycerides.
Everything you Need to Know About Prescription Fish Oil
Having too much triglyceride in the blood is bad. Like cholesterol, high triglycerides is linked to heart disease.
The dosage for Lovaza is four (4) pills per day.
Patients taking Lovaza noticed a 30 to 40% reduction in their blood triglyceride level. Clearly, it works!
Each Lovaza pill has about 850 to 900 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids. The EPA content is 465 mg and DHA content is 375 mg per pill.
In Europe and Asia, it is marketed for ‘secondary prevention of post-myocardial infraction’. (Translation: it keeps you from getting a second heart attack after you’ve just had one.)
Lovaza is marketed and distributed in the US by GlaxoSmithKline. The patents and formulas are owned by a Norwegian company called Pronova BioPharma.
Lovaza and Omacor together had sales of over $ 1 billion in 2009.
Pronova used to make fish oil for supplements until 2005. I’ve bought fish oil from them several times. That same fish oil and technology has been refined and is now sold by Pronova BioPharma as a drug.
Pronova and GlaxoSmithKline don’t make the actual Lovaza pills. The pills are made by Catalent, Banner and Accucaps.
All three companies also make fish oil supplements and were my vendors a few years ago. They produce the prescription pills in separate FDA drug-approved sections of their facilities.
Since Lovaza is the only Omega-3 drug, many scientists and researchers prefer using Lovaza in their clinical trials.
Why? Well, unlike supplements, drugs have to follow very specific rules. So every pill of Lovaza is just like the next. Pharmaceutical grade fish oil pills are just as good. But using the drug reduces variability – a very important thing in clinical trials. Still most Omega-3 clinical trials are done with pharmaceutical grade fish oil.
New clinical studies
There are 4 major studies (ORIGIN, ASCENT, GISSI and VITAL) with a total of 55,000 patients that are evaluating Lovaza Omega-3 and its effect on heart disease.
The most interesting one is VITAL, conducted by Harvard Medical School with 20,000 patients. They have included Vitamin D as well. The aim of the study is to see if Omega-3 and Vitamin D prevent heart disease and cancer over a period of 5 years.
I pity the patients on the placebo pills!
Part 2 of this series compares Lovaza versus fish oil supplements.
About the Author: Vin Kutty is OmegaVia’s Scientific Advisor and Chief Blogger. He is a nutritionist, author and Omega-3 expert with over 20 years of experience. He blogs here, there and occasionally, everywhere. When inspired, he shares his professorial wisdom on Facebook and Twitter. Email him.