Fish Oil For $100 A Pill
Before you read this, I want to warn you – at any moment, I can veer off into an emotional rant. And after you read this, you should be outraged, also.
There is a prescription form of Omega-3 fish oil being marketed by a major pharmaceutical company. It costs about seven times more than the same amount of Omega-3 fish oil you can buy as a dietary supplement.
If I had no other reason to dislike “Big Pharma” this would suffice. Everything I learn about pharmaceutical companies makes me think less of them. They are stealing our effective and useful natural substances without adequate science, creating patentable molecules, and making more money than any of us can imagine off human suffering and death.
All of this is a background to what I believe to be the most unconscionable prescription drug product I have heard of recently – and I seem to hear more and more each week. I do not usually watch any television, let alone daytime, but I happened to hear a commercial on “The View,” that great cachement area of female personalities.
The advertisement was meant to educate the general public (and sell them) a Smith-Glaxo-Klein product they call “Lovaza.”
It is the ethyl ester (read alcohol stabilized form) of fish oil; that is, eicosopentanoic and docosohexanoic acid (EPA and DHA). The television commercial claimed that it is the only prescription drug that can lower triglycerides. I sat there stifling a scream. I am alive and well and productive because you do not NEED a prescription drug to lower triglycerides.
It is a different story, but I will be glad to send you my free report on how I saved my own life after a near-death experience, lowering my triglycerides with over-the-counter inexpensive fish oil. Just send me an email at email@example.com for your free copy.
Fish oil works just fine – I have no argument about that. I went through the patient info on the Lovaza web site. They said this was good medicine because it was concentrated and you needed fewer capsules, and because it came from something natural and was FDA approved.
FDA approved? I have been around those government bureaucrats and I’ve worked in research where I got to know their duties and responsibilities.
They do NOT know about natural substances. Since naturals aren’t covered by the FDA, I don’t think they have any incentive to read about them on their own time – much less study them.
Me — I go to the source. I checked out the National Library of Medicine. They have 233 studies on the ethyl ester of fish oil.
That’s right – over 200 clinical studies!
Most of them use a standard ploy of pharmaceutical companies; to test this stuff as an adjunct to already known compounds. Like the statin drugs, which are fairly good for cholesterol, but were never any real help with triglycerides. Statin drugs have, of course, their own set of problems.
Back to the 233 articles. There are some vague intimations that the ethyl ester replicates the physiological integration of the components of fish oil into the system, and is therefore better absorbed, or in some way superior.
The National Library of Medicine does not contain a single article to show that the ethyl ester is superior to plain old fish oil.
As a matter of fact, in case you think I missed something, our friends at Wikipedia also reviewed the literature and agree with me.
They add one delightful fact. It is more expensive to produce the simple fish oil than to produce the ethyl ester. A penny saved is a penny earned! Oh, those folks at Glaxo, another bit of extra profit.
In fact, I expect nobody will do the study I want to see, comparing fish oil to its prescription drug “analogue.” I suspect that nobody but me cares. The public should.
With the prescription you take less pills. Sure, that might increase compliance. We do know and have seen articles that prove that people are more likely to do what their doctor says when less pills are involved. What about cost, the lining of the pockets of Smith-Glaxo-Klein, the raising of the prices of private insurance premiums, the increased outlays of money by impoverished counties who provide care for the indigent?
It is expensive to care for stroke and heart attack victims, let alone all the other problems that lowered intake of Omega 3′s could cause. Any kind of fish oil pills can only be cheaper by far. Any problems with pollution or impurities or anything I can think of appear minimal compared to the potential benefits of fish oil, in any brand known to me.
Drug companies do a good job of convincing the public that a prescription drug is “better” than a natural substance. The American public gets fragmentary information on health from Women’s magazines and television shows, if any. Most advertising agencies know that most people blur the line between an advertisement and a news story. Think of all the commercials where an actor wears a white jacket, implying he or she is a doctor, while giving out the advertising message. The public are told, on the website and in print and TV commercials, to tell their doctors about this drug and to ask for it by name.
Doctors. Poor doctors who are being asked in the near future to take cuts in what they get paid on individual patients on Medicaid or Medicare. Patients will want what is advertised on “The View.”
Doctors will serve the patients sitting in front of them. They will need to see more patients to pay their rent. They will have less time to read the literature. They will not find the article I found in the New England Journal of Medicine unless they have a life-threatening condition, as I did, or have the “passion” for medicine, chasing patient solutions like Sherlock Holmes (modeled after a pathologist) chases a mystery. My guess is that some of them may have had it early on, but it was pummeled out of them by socioeconomic stressors.
Is there any patient intelligent enough, with self-confidence enough, to question the pharmacological system that has oppressed us all? Sometimes, if they did, it can mean a cheaper solution. Sometimes it means that a knowledgeable, sophisticated patient needs to put his or her money where their brain is.
If a medication like Lovaza can be sold to a public through doctors then it is time for a revolution. The doctors are too oppressed to revolt. It must come from patients. An increase of access to health care is of little use unless the health care is of maximal quality. If price is the concern, then go for the maximum bang for the buck.