omega-3-acid ethyl esters

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Annette (Gbemudu) Ogbru, PharmD, MBA

    Dr. Gbemudu received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Nova Southeastern University, her PharmD degree from University of Maryland, and MBA degree from University of Baltimore. She completed a one year post-doctoral fellowship with Rutgers University and Bristol Myers Squibb.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What is omega-3-acid ethyl esters (Lovaza), and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Lovaza is an fat-regulating (antilipemic) drug that is used in addition to diet to reduce triglyceride (TG, a fat-carrying particle in the blood) levels in adult patients with severe elevations in blood levels of TG (≥mg/dL). It is similar to Epanova (omega-3 carboxylic acid). TG is composed of three fatty acids as well as glycerol, and like cholesterol, comes from either the diet or the liver. High levels of TG in the blood are associated with conditions such as obesity, insulin resistance, poorly controlled diabetes mellitus amongst others that contribute to the risk of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries (progressive build up of waxy plaque on the inside of blood vessels) responsible for coronary artery disease (angina and heart attacks) and strokes.

The precise way in which Lovaza works is not clear; however, its proposed mechanism of action is by decreasing the amount of TG produced by the liver and increasing the removal of TG by the liver. Other drugs that reduce TG levels include fibric acids such as gemfibrozil (Lopid), nicotinic acids such as niacin (Nicobid, Nicolar, Slo-Niacin), and statins such as atorvastatin (Lipitor). Lovaza was FDA approved on November 10, 2004.

What brand names are available for omega-3-acid ethyl esters (Lovaza)?


Is omega-3-acid ethyl esters (Lovaza) available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for omega-3-acid ethyl esters (Lovaza)?


What are the side effects of omega-3-acid ethyl esters (Lovaza)?

Upset stomach, burping, and strange tastes in may occur. If these effects persist or worsen, patients should notify their doctor. They also should tell their doctors immediately if any of the following rare but serious side effects that suggest increased bleeding occur: easy bleeding from cuts/bruising, black/tarry stools, vomitus that looks like coffee grounds.

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