Lovaza (Omega-3-acid Ethyl Esters) - Oral

What Is Lovaza?

Lovaza is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved brand name for omega-3-acid ethyl esters, which is the main ingredient of this medication.

Lovaza is primarily composed of a combination of two omega-3-acid ethyl esters known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are sourced from fish oils. It is used alongside a healthy diet to lower high triglyceride levels (500 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or more).

Lovaza is only available with a valid prescription. It is taken by mouth in capsule form.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Omega-3-acid ethyl esters

Brand Name(s): Lovaza

Drug Availability: Prescription

Administration Route: Oral

Therapeutic Classification: Omega-3 fatty acids

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid

Dosage Form(s): Capsule

What Is Lovaza Used For?

The FDA approved Lovaza to be used along with a lipid-lowering diet to reduce triglyceride levels in individuals whose levels are high (500 mg/dL or more).

How to Take Lovaza

You should always follow directions from your healthcare provider on taking Lovaza. The usual dose of Lovaza is taken once or twice daily. The capsules should be swallowed whole. Do not break open, crush, dissolve, or chew them.

Storage

Store Lovaza in a cool, dry place at room temperature (68 F to 77 F). Be careful not to expose your medication to hot or cold temperatures. These environments can impact how well your medication works. Do not store it in the bathroom or refrigerator.

Keep this medication out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental consumption.

Generally, it is best to contact your pharmacist or healthcare provider before you run out of the medication to make a refill request. 

Off-Label Uses

In some instances, you may see omega-3 acid ethyl esters used for other conditions not approved by the FDA. This is known as off-label use.

For example, omega-3-acid ethyl esters may be used to treat a chronic kidney disease known as IgA nephropathy and may have some benefits for those with heart failure.

How Long Does Lovaza Take to Work?

It may take a few weeks to notice a significant reduction in triglycerides. Two clinical studies showed that treatment with Lovaza reduced triglycerides by 39% compared to 7.8% in those given a placebo after six weeks.

What Are the Side Effects of Lovaza?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Lovaza is a generally well-tolerated medication. However, the most common side effects of Lovaza are:

Severe Side Effects

While Lovaza is a relatively safe medication, a rare but serious allergic reaction has been reported by some individuals while taking this medication. It is important to seek immediate medical help if you experience chest pain or pressure, a fast heartbeat, or an abnormal heartbeat.

Lovaza is a well-tolerated medication that does not have documented side effects that occur after it has been stopped.

Report Side Effects

Lovaza may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Lovaza Should I Take?

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The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage form (capsules):
    • For high triglycerides or fats in the blood:
      • Adults—4 capsules per day, either taken as a single dose once per day, or 2 capsules two times a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

Sometimes, your healthcare provider may modify your treatment or choose a different medication, especially if the following applies to you.

Children under 12 years old: The safety and effectiveness of Lovaza have yet to be established in this age group.

Pregnancy: There are no well-controlled studies of Lovaza in pregnant people. Lovaza should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Breastfeeding: Studies with Lovaza’s active ingredient have been observed to be present in human milk. The effect of Lovaza on infants is unknown. Caution should be used when Lovaza is prescribed to a breastfeeding individual. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are prescribed this medication and breastfeeding.

Other Health Conditions: Lovaza may cause worsening liver disease and atrial fibrillation. Close monitoring is recommended if you take Lovaza and have any of these conditions.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If the time you remember is closer to the next scheduled dose, you should only take the upcoming dose, not the missed one.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Lovaza?

Lovaza does not have reports of overdosage. In case of a suspected overdose, seek medical help immediately and contact poison control for the latest recommendations.

What Happens If I Overdose on Lovaza?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Lovaza, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Lovaza, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to take it. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Lovaza?

Although rare, allergies to Lovaza or its components (EPA and DHA) are possible. Do not take this medication if you have one of these allergies. It is unknown if there is an increased risk for an allergic reaction in people with a fish or shellfish allergy. Therefore, use with caution if you have a known fish or shellfish allergy.

Lovaza may also cause worsening liver disease and atrial fibrillation. Close monitoring is recommended if you take Lovaza and have these conditions.

What Other Medications Interact With Lovaza?

Lovaza can interact with other medications when taken together. Before starting treatment, tell your healthcare provider about any other medicines you take or plan to take, including over-the-counter (OTC) non-prescription products, vitamins, herbs, supplements, and plant-based medicines.

Some trials testing Lovaza with blood thinners have shown longer bleeding times. However, this extension of bleeding times did not exceed safe limits, and no significant bleeding episodes were observed. 

While clinical reviews have not observed an increased risk for significant bleeds, periodic monitoring is still recommended if you take Lovaza and a blood thinner.  Examples of common blood thinners are:

Some people, especially those with high triglyceride levels, have shown an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), commonly known as “bad cholesterol,” while taking Lovaza.

If you are using a medication that lowers your cholesterol, it is important to monitor your cholesterol regularly to ensure your levels are within your recommended range. Some common cholesterol-lowering drugs include:

This is not a complete list of drug interactions, and others may occur. Talk with your pharmacist or healthcare provider for more detailed information about medication interactions with Lovaza.

What Medications Are Similar?

Lovaza is an omega-3-acid ethyl ester that combines EPA and DHA. Another medication that contains EPA is Vascepa (icosapent ethyl). However, it does not contain DHA.

Lovaza is primarily used to lower triglyceride levels. Other medications that also reduce triglyceride levels include:

This is a list of drugs also prescribed for high triglyceride levels. It is NOT a list of drugs recommended to take with Lovaza. In fact, you should not take these drugs together. Talk to your pharmacist or a healthcare provider if you have questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Lovaza used for?

    Lovaza is used to lower your triglyceride levels if diet alone is not enough to get within your recommended range. It is important to continue a healthy diet while taking Lovaza to get the most benefits from this medication.

  • How long does Lovaza take to work?

    It may take weeks for Lovaza to reach its full effect. Though you may not feel a difference while taking this medication, it is important to continue taking it as instructed by your healthcare provider to help with triglyceride levels.

  • How expensive is Lovaza?

    Lovaza is a relatively expensive medication. How much you pay may vary depending on your health insurance. Fortunately, there is a generic equivalent that is much cheaper. If cost is a concern, talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist about cost-saving opportunities.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Lovaza?

To stay healthy while taking Lovaza, it is important to take this medication as directed by your healthcare provider.

Maintaining a healthy, lipid-lowering diet and exercising regularly are also beneficial to improving your heart health. If you find it challenging to exercise routinely, start walking 30 minutes three or five days a week and slowly increase the frequency and intensity.

You can work with a registered dietitian, nutritionist, or healthcare provider to tailor your diet based on your individual treatment goals. Generally, heart-healthy foods include lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins. It's best to avoid eating highly processed foods and foods high in trans fat.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some drug content, as indicated on the page.

The author would like to recognize and thank Cody Ryan Thomas for contributing to this article.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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