Sticker Shock: The Real Cost Of America’s 10 Most Expensive Drugs


The high price of pharmaceuticals has become a constant topic of conversation in the U.S. As medical costs rise, consumers face greater financial uncertainty. And day after day, both the White House and Congress make promises that they will lower prescription costs to alleviate constituent concerns, but few changes have backed up their words.

That said, time and again we are reminded that despite the rising costs of pharma, the medical industry is exceptionally complex and very rarely do patients see the real price tag of their drugs. And that lack of information – not to mention the number of third-party entities that get involved – creates a confusing and frustrating, and often bloated, price structure.

However, this is becoming increasingly evident to consumers as more individuals obtain high-deductible health plans (or have no insurance at all), and are tasked with paying full price. The range of pricing can be unpredictable and staggering. For example, Atorvastatin (generic Lipitor) has a wholesale list price of $9.04, but an insurance discount price of $5.08 and a potential patient cash price of $129.98.


Because prescription drug prices are not regulated, they can also vary wildly from pharmacy to pharmacy and insurer to insurer. That’s why GoodRx, a service for comparing and locating the best prescription prices, as well as providing coupons for prescriptions, has had such success in a short amount of time. By targeting lower income individuals who are uninsured or under-insured, the startup has been able to build a strong brand for offsetting pharma costs. So strong in fact, that it is supposedly in talks to be sold for up to $3 billion.

But the company does more than provide lower cost drugs to individuals. It has taken to creating rankings and lists that shine a light on just how pharmaceutical costs get built up. Further, for the last couple years, they have created a list of the country’s most expensive drugs – that will leave anyone with sticker shock.

Although very few consumers pay out-of-pocket prices for a monthly supply of medication thanks to insurance, the number who do is increasing. And in the case that an individual has to pay the list price – or wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) set by the pharmaceutical company – the following 10 drugs will set back anyone’s monthly budget. Below are the 10 most expensive drugs in the U.S. according to GoodRx’s 2018 rankings.

Prices are based on a 30-day supply at WAC:

  1. Actimmune: $52,321  Owned by Horizon Pharma. Specialty drug that treats osteoporosis and chonic granulomatous disease. Price for 12 vials.  
  2. Daraprim: $45,000  Owned by Vyera (previously Turing). An anti-parasitic medication that treats infection of toxoplasmosis. Price for 6 tablets.
  3. Cinryze: $44,140  Owned by Shire. This drug is used to treat a rare condition known as hereditary angioedema, a blood disorder that causes swelling. Price for 20 vials.
  4. Chenodal: $42,570  Owned by Retrophin. Helps treat gallstones for those who cannot have gallbladder surgery by dissolving the gallstones. Price for 90 tablets.
  5. Myalept: $42,137  Owned by Aegerion. Used to treat the symptoms of leptin deficiency in patients with congenital or acquired generalized lipodystrophy. Price for 1 vial.
  6. P. Acthar: $38,892  Owned by Mallinckrodt. Treats Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, MS, infantile spasms & other conditions. Price for 2 vials.
  7. Juxtapid: $36,992  Owned by Aegerion. Used in combination with diet, this drug lowers blood cholesterol. Price for 30 capsules.
  8. Firazyr: $32,468  Owned by Shire. A protein used to treat a rare condition known as hereditary angioedema, a blood disorder that causes swelling. Price for 2 syringes.
  9. Harvoni: $31,500  Owned by Gilead Sciences. This is a combination drug that treats Hepatis C by combining two antiviral medicines into one tablet. Price for 21 tablets.
  10. Cuprimine: $31,426  Owned by Valeant. This drug is used to treat Wilson disease, a rare inherited disease that causes copper to build up in the body, as well as rheumatoid arthritis. Price for 120 capsules.  

Articles You May Like

L3Harris gets $119 million Space Force contract for deep-space telescopes
Beijing, the seat of science capital
Pandemic exacerbates NASA cybersecurity challenges
Near-perfect photon utilization in an air-bridge thermophotovoltaic cell
Why nature is the next frontier for sustainable business

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *