Lovaza (omega-3-acid ethyl esters) is the only drug in this class of lipid-lowering medications. Like the fibrates, it is approved for lowering triglyceride levels in individuals with extremely high levels (500 mg/dL or higher). However, the medication can sometimes cause LDL cholesterol levels to rise. When this happens, adding a statin can help bring LDL cholesterol back to normal levels.

Lovaza contains the omega-3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are found in fatty fish and in nonprescription fish oil supplements. In fact, fish oil supplements have the same triglyceride-lowering effects as Lovaza, but you would need to take a higher dose of the supplement to get the same effect. Researchers are uncertain how Lovaza reduces triglyceride levels. One possibility is that the omega-3 fats in the drug interfere with the liver’s ability to convert other dietary fats into triglycerides.

Lovaza Benefits

Lovaza reduces triglycerides by about 45 to 50 percent and raises HDL cholesterol levels by 9 percent.

Lovaza Side Effects

Most people who take Lovaza experience no side effects, but when they do occur the most common are burping, upset stomach, and changes in the sense of taste. People taking anticlotting drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix), prasugrel (Effient), or warfarin should use Lovaza with caution because of an increased risk of excessive bleeding.

Publication Review By: Roger S. Blumenthal, M.D. and Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.

Published: 08 Jul 2011

Last Modified: 15 Jan 2015