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No more Lovaza

Posted Jul 30 2010 9:13am 1 Comment
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.

Comments (1)
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& here I thought you were advocating for your patient.  I was going to mention GSK offers programs for both insured individuals, as well as uninsured persons requiring financial assistance who do NOT reside in MA; I believe the other qualifier is that the patient can not be covered by Medicaid & possibly Medicare, although I'm not positive on those points.  For me, my husband has been successfully using Lovaza (4 capsules per day) & it has very effectively helped to reduce his triglycerides to a good, normal level.  It winds up costing us $15.00 for a 90 day supply or $5.00 per month.

While I hear what you're saying about us absorbing the high profits from the drug companies, let's remember they are the ones who put up first in investigating new drugs that are saving lives.  I, for one would look at the insurance carriers as the main culprits in our healthcare debacle!
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