Everyone is aware of fish oils and the benefits to human physiology.  Did you know that they are available by a prescription?  I really shouldn’t got into this topic because it gets my blood boiling…

This is certainly not the first time that the drug companies have tried to ride the tide of popular natural approaches and monopolize on them, but this may be the most nausea-inspiring.  Why?

We can easily argue that the drug companies are about 30 years behind the research on the benefits of fish oils (the early studies came out in the 70’s).  GlaxoSmithKline has done very little research on the efficacy of fish oils and the conditions they can treat.

What is the excuse most drugs companies give for the exceedingly high cost of their drugs?  You guessed it– Research and Development.  So, we’ve established that GSK did very little of this and are merely riding the coattails of decades of research.  Sure–they’ve done some simple studies on their product Lovaza (formerly known as Omacor), but just enough to satisfy the FDA.

So what’s the problem?  At GSK’s prices for Lovaza, at recommended dosages (4 grams per day…more on that later), even budget conscious Costco is $182 / month.  yes–that is one hundred and eighty dollars for omega 3 fatty acids that for an arguably superior product that we sell in our office the cost is under $30.  Over 6 TIMES the cost.  And it’s certainly not about the R & D and it’s not about the quality.  That’s what’s so sickening.

And worse, some of your insurance is actually picking up the bill.  Yup.  Your insurance wouldn’t pay $30, but they’re willing to pay over $200.  And we wonder why there’s problems with healthcare costs…

Back to this particular study that looked at the cost effectiveness of the massively overpriced Lovaza being used at 4 grams / day and found that the cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY–a standard approach to determining if an intervention is worth the cost…anything under $50K is considered worth the cost) was $47K, or just under the margin.  A little funny when you back out of the data and look at how much the drug costs…..(I’d say it sounds “fishy,” but that would be too punnish..)

If we were looking at a reasonably priced OTC fish oil, this would be closer to $7800.  Ironically, when you take the most recent review of statin (in)effectiveness by the Cochrane Group, the cost of QALY was over $62K.  Not even in the same ballpark.

Of course, none of this addresses the massive benefits and cost savings with you couple healthy lifestyle changes like avoiding refined carbohydrates with a lower dose omega 3 use…

Read more… 

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.