Without insurance or financial assistance, an over-the-counter (OTC) oral suspension pinworm medication costs around $15 per 30mL supply. The average cost of prescription (Rx) pinworm medications tends to be much more expensive, averaging around $600 per pill. The cost is affected by several factors, including medication brand, insurance, financial assistance, dosage, and over-the-counter status.
What is The Average Cost of Pinworm Medication?
Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter pyrantel pamoate derivative or a prescription medication to treat a pinworm infection. On average, over-the-counter pyrantel pamoate costs around $15 per 30mL supply without insurance or financial assistance. The average cost of prescription pinworm medication is around $600 per pill without insurance.
The most common prescription anti-parasite medications for pinworms are:
- Mebendazole (brand name: Emverm)
- Albendazole (brand name: Albenza)
In the United States, only pyrantel pamoate is available over-the-counter. The more common medication brands of pyrantel pamoate for pinworms are:
- Reese’s Pinworm Medicine
- Pinworm Medicine
Below is a table of prescription and over-the-counter pinworm medications and their respective average costs.
|Drug Name||Generic Name||Rx/OTC||Average Cost Per Unit Without Insurance|
|Mebendazole (Emverm)||Mebendazole systemic||Rx||$639.50|
|Albendazole (Albenza)||Albendazole systemic||Rx||$260.28|
|Reese’s Pinworm Medicine||Pyrantel systemic||Rx/OTC||$15.00|
|Pinworm Medicine||Pyrantel systemic||Rx/OTC||$15.00|
Factors That Influence The Cost of Pinworm Medication
Multiple factors influence the cost of pinworm medications: brand, dosage, insurance, financial assistance, and whether or not it is available over the counter.
Prescription Versus Over-the-Counter
As seen in the table above, there is a significant difference between the average cost of over-the-counter pinworm medications versus prescription ones. Prescription pinworm medication used to only cost a few dollars per pill, even without insurance. However, the price has since shot up to an average of $500-$600 per pill.
Sometimes prescription medications increase in price due to supply and demand or research and development. In this case, however, pharmaceutical companies inflate prices for their profit. Without proper regulation, companies can continue charging whatever they want for these drugs.
Fortunately, there are over-the-counter options that are much more affordable. The average cost of an over-the-counter pinworm medication like Reese’s Pinworm Medicine is around $13-$15 without insurance.
Though prescription and over-the-counter medications contain different main ingredients, they generally have the same effectiveness rate and side effects. The duration of treatment is also the same for both kinds of medicines: around two weeks.
Emverm and Albenza are the brand names for the prescription drugs mebendazole and albendazole. While both are 90-95% effective for pinworm treatment, Emverm is around $400 more expensive per unit than Albenza.
According to clinical pharmacist Dr. Brian Staiger, Emverm (mebendazole) costs much more than generic pinworm medication because it has become a branded drug. Dr. Staiger says:
“The rights for [generic mebendazole] switched hands a few times, and in 2015, the pharma company Amedra began developing a new, chewable version of the drug, which was launched in January 2016 as Emverm. However, unlike the previously available generic mebendazole, Emverm was priced at around $2,300 for a single dose, making it significantly more expensive”
Albenza (albendazole) is available as a brand name and generic drug. According to GoodRx, the average retail price for Albenza is about $260 per tablet pill. Although it retails at a high price, it is much less expensive than Emverm.
Over-the-counter pyrantel pamoate drug brands are inexpensive and do not vary significantly based on brand.
The cost of prescription pinworm medication can vary depending on dosage and the amount of medication you require.
According to Dr. Staiger, Albenza is usually taken 400mg orally and repeated in two weeks. Emverm is taken 100mg orally and repeated in two weeks. The table below shows that the price quickly increases as the dosage increases.
For over-the-counter pyrantel pamoate (like Reese’s Pinworm Medicine), Dr. Staiger says the CDC recommends redosing after two weeks to prevent reinfection.
|Drug Name||Rx/OTC||Quantity||Price Per Unit||Total Price Without Insurance|
|Pyrantel Pamoate (30g)||Rx/OTC||2||$15.00-$20.00||$30.00-$40.00|
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Insurance and Financial Assistance for Pinworm Medication
The variance in cost for pinworm medication can feel daunting. However, pinworm medication can be very affordable with insurance and financial assistance.
The expenses listed in the above tables represent the retail price of pinworm medication without insurance or financial aid. Because pyrantel pamoate is an over-the-counter medication, insurance generally does not cover it. Nonetheless, it is affordable at around $15-$20.
According to Dr. Staiger, insurance usually does not cover Emverm (mebendazole) due to its high cost. However, most insurance plans cover the cost of Albenza (albendazole) and allow a single fill of four tablets of Albenza for one copay. Depending on a patient’s copay, insurance can make Albenza the least expensive option—$5-$10 versus $15-$20 for Reese’s Pinworm Medication.
If you want to learn more about insurance terminology and literacy, Mira can help.
Financial Assistance Without Insurance
Without insurance, financial assistance can still help you afford pinworm medication. For example, Albenza retails for $260 per unit. However, with a discount card, Dr. Staiger says it generally reduces to $15-20 per tablet. You can obtain discount cards for Albenza and other drugs from GoodRx or MiraRX. The table below summarizes the most affordable pinworm medication options with and without insurance:
|Drug Name||Covered by Insurance?||Retail Price (per tablet)||Discounted Price Without Insurance||Discounted Price With Insurance|
(Reese’s Pinworm Medication)
What does Pinworm Medicine Treat?
A pinworm is a thin, white roundworm that infects and lives inside a patient’s colon and rectum. A pinworm infection causes itching around the anus, which occurs due to the female pinworm laying eggs. It spreads by the fecal-oral route but can be treated effectively with the over-the-counter or prescription medications discussed above.
The following are common symptoms of pinworm infection:
- Itching around the anus
- Difficulty sleeping and restlessness
- Loss of appetite
- Vaginal itching and irritation (vaginitis)
Pinworm infections most commonly occur among school-aged children, institutionalized people, and the caretakers of people with pinworm infections. It spreads by the transfer of pinworm eggs from an infected person’s anus to someone’s mouth, either directly or indirectly, through contaminated objects like clothing or food.
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Diagnosing Pinworm Infection
To test for a pinworm infection, you must identify the worm or its eggs, which you can sometimes find in the skin around the anus, underwear, pajamas, or bedsheets. They are more likely to be detected about 2-3 hours after the infected person falls asleep. An adult worm is a quarter to half an inch long and visible to the naked eye.
As soon as an infected person wakes up, you can collect and examine potential pinworms using the “tape test”. The test is performed by pressing a clear piece of cellophane tape to the skin near the anus. If done correctly, the eggs should stick to the tape and can be examined under a microscope. The CDC recommends doing the “tape test” on three consecutive mornings to increase the chances of finding eggs.
Pinworm Medication Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The following section will answer some frequently asked questions about pinworm treatment.
Where can I go to get tested for pinworms?
After completing the “tape test,” we recommend you seal the used tape in a plastic bag and take it to a healthcare provider. You can take it to your primary care physician or urgent care for testing. As shown by Mira, an urgent care visit can vary in price depending on location and insurance.
How can I avoid pinworm infection or reinfection?
Pinworm infection can be treated with the prescription or over-the-counter medications discussed above. It is important to involve all household members and caretakers in treating the infection. Observing good hygiene is also crucial to avoid reinfection. Here are some good tips to follow:
- Keep fingernails cut short
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water
- Take a shower every day (preferably in the morning)
- Wash clothes, towels, and bedsheets regularly
- Avoid scratching around the anus or between the legs
Are there any side effects of pinworm medication?
Adverse reactions with the pinworm medication drugs discussed in this article are rare and similar to each other. Here is a list of symptoms to watch out for:
- Stomach/abdominal cramps
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
According to Dr. Staiger, pyrantel pamoate is recommended for patients who are pregnant. The other available drugs’ active ingredients (mebendazole and albendazole) have the potential to be harmful to a developing fetus.
The cost of pinworm medication depends on multiple factors: brand, dosage, insurance, financial assistance, and whether or not it is available over the counter. On average, over-the-counter oral suspension pinworm medication costs around $15 per 30mL supply. The average cost of prescription pinworm medications is around $600 per pill.
It is vital to treat pinworm infections immediately to stop the spread and risk of reinfection. Luckily, there are ways to reduce the price of prescription pinworm medications without insurance. A prescription pinworm medication can be purchased using discount cards for only $15-$20 per dose, comparable to an over-the-counter option.
Jasiah Hasan is from Portland, Oregon. She is completing her Master's in Public Health in global health policy at George Washington University. Outside of health equity and women's health, Jasiah is passionate about writing and dreams of one-day publishing poetry books.