Lovaza vs. Vascepa - what's the difference between them?
The main differences between Lovaza and Vascepa are their FDA approved uses, composition, dose schedule, side effects and price.
- Both Lovaza and Vascepa are prescription oral medications used in addition to diet to help lower high triglyceride levels that can be dangerous for your heart.
- However, Vascepa is also approved to be used with a statin in certain high risk groups with high triglycerides to lower the risk of outcomes like a heart attack or stroke. Lovaza is not approved to be used with a statin for this purpose and it is not known if Lovaza prevents you from having a heart attack or stroke.
- Vascepa only contains the purified ester of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid. Lovaza contains two different omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and EPA.
- DHA has been shown to increase levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol when used to treat high triglycerides, but EPA has not been shown to have this effect.
How do I take Lovaza or Vascepa?
Lovaza (generic name: omega-3-acid ethyl esters) and Vascepa (generic name: icosapent ethyl, the ethyl ester of EPA) both come as oral capsules you swallow. Lovaza can be taken once or twice a day, while Vascepa is taken twice a day. Both products are formulations of omega-3 fatty acids (from fish oil). Take your dose exactly as your doctor prescribes.
Both medicines are used in addition to a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet to lower triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia) and are approved for use in adults only. An appropriate exercise program may need to be followed in addition to diet.
Before using Lovaza or Vascepa, tell your doctor if you are allergic to fish or shellfish.
- The daily dose of Lovaza is 4 grams per day. You may take this dose as a single 4-gram dose (4 capsules); OR as two 2-gram doses (2 capsules given twice daily). Do not take more than 4 capsules of Lovaza per day.
- Take Lovaza with food.
- Take your Lovaza capsules whole. Do not break them open, crush, dissolve, or chew Lovaza.
- The daily dose of Vascepa is 4 grams per day taken as either four 0.5 gram capsules twice daily; OR as two 1 gram capsules.
- Take Vascepa with food.
- Take your Vascepa capsules whole; do not break open, crush, dissolve, or chew Vascepa.
How do the side effects differ between Lovaza and Vascepa?
Lovaza side effects
The most common side effects that may occur with Lovaza are:
- upset stomach
- a change in your sense of taste
Serious side effects with Lovaza have been reported and are:
- changes in certain blood tests (liver; low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C or "bad" cholesterol).
- an increased risk of a heart rhythm problem in some high-risk people
Although serious bleeding was not reported in Lovaza clinical studies, if you take a blood thinner (for example, warfarin or aspirin) your doctor may need to monitor you for this effect.
In some patients, Lovaza increases LDL cholesterol, and levels should be monitored periodically during therapy with Lovaza.
In patients with liver impairment, liver enzyzme levels (ALT, AST) should be monitored periodically during therapy with Lovaza.
Vascepa side effects
The most common side effects that may occur with Vascepa are:
- muscle and joint pain
- swelling of the hands, legs, or feet
- mouth/throat pain
- heart rhythm problems (atrial fibrillation)
Vascepa may also cause serious side effects, such as :
- heart rhythm problems (atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter). Tell your doctor if you get any symptoms of heart rhythm problems, such as a fast or irregular heart beat, lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, or you faint.
- possible allergic reactions if you are allergic to fish or shellfish
- bleeding; risk may increase if you are also taking a blood thinner medicine (for example: warfarin or aspirin).
If you experience any serious side effects or an allergic reaction with either drug, contact your doctor or call for emergency medical help (such as 911) immediately.
In patients with liver impairment, liver enzyzme levels (ALT, AST) should be monitored periodically during therapy with Vascepa.
These are not all the possible side effects that can occur with Lovaza or Vascepa. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
Which is more expensive - Lovaza or Vascepa?
Monthly Price for Lovaza (using the Drugs.com discount card):
- Lovaza 1 gram: $732 for 120 capsules
- omega-3-acid ethyl esters 1 gram (generic for Lovaza): $82 for 120 capsules
Monthly Price for Vascepa (using the Drugs.com discount card):
- Vascepa 0.5 gram: $446 for 240 capsules
- Vascepa 1 gram: $382 for 120 capsules
- A generic option for Vascepa is not yet available in the US.
Access the free Drugs.com prescription drug discount card here.
To learn more about pricing and financial assistance offered by the manufacturers of these drugs, visit these sites:
Based on your heart risk profile, your doctor may prefer you use Vascepa instead of Lovaza. However, there may be options for you to lower your cost for these medicines, if needed. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Both Lovaza and Vascepa are used to lower high triglycerides in your blood that can be dangerous to the heart.
- However, Vascepa is also approved to be used with a statin in certain high risk patients with high triglycerides to lower the chance of outcomes like a heart attack or stroke.
- It is not known if Lovaza prevents you from having a heart attack or stroke and is not approved to be used with a statin for this purpose.
This is not a full listing of differences between Lovaza and Vascepa or all the information you need for safe or effective use. Review the full Lovaza and Vascepa product information, and discuss this information with your doctor or other health care provider.
- Ito M. A Comparative Overview of Prescription Omega-3 Fatty Acid Products. P&T. December 2015. Vol. 40 No. 12. Accessed at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4671468/pdf/ptj4012826.pdf
- Lovaza [product information]. GlaxoSmithKline. Research Triangle Park, NC. Accessed Sept. 28, 2020 at https://www.gsksource.com/pharma/content/dam/GlaxoSmithKline/US/en/Prescribing_Information/Lovaza/pdf/LOVAZA-PI-PIL.PDF
- Vascepa [product information]. Amarin Pharma. Bridgewater NJ. Accessed Sept. 28, 2020 at https://amarincorp.com/docs/Vascepa-PI.pdf
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