The 10 Most Expensive Drugs on the Market in 2021
Prescription drugs can be very expensive in the United States, whether you’re insured or uninsured. Many of the most expensive drugs on the market are known as “break-through” therapies, in which they treat a serious or life-threatening condition. Zolgensma is the most expensive drug in the U.S. with an estimated annual cost of $2,125,000. Below we outline the 10 most expensive drugs on the market in 2021.
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10 Most Expensive Drugs on the Market
The 10 most expensive drugs on the market in 2021 range between $2,125,000 and $678,392. These prices are based on their annual cost as well as the length of therapy in which an individual would have to use them.
The Annual Price for Each Drug
|Drug & Manufacturer||Annual Price|
|Zokinvy (Eiger BioPharmaceuticals)||$1,032,480|
|Danyelza (Y-mAbs Therapeutics)||$977,664|
|Myalept (Aegerion Pharmaceuticals)||$889,904|
|Luxturna (Spark Therapeutics)||$850,000|
|Folotyn (Acrotech Biopharma)||$793,870|
|Brineura (BioMarin Pharmaceuticals)||$730,340|
|Ravicti (Horizon Therapeutics)||$695,970|
|Soliris (Alexion Pharmaceuticals)||$678,392|
Zolgensma is typically used to treat spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a rare disorder caused by a defective gene; the illness destroys the nerves that control muscles. The disorder (if severe) is typically terminal, and babies born with it usually don’t live past age two.
Zolgensma is delivered as a single one-time dose to address the genetic root cause of the disorder and ultimately produce long-term effects, many people who take the drug showed no signs of the disease in the future. “Gene therapy is a patient-specific treatment that modifies one’s DNA to change their genetic makeup,” says Dr. Nouhavandi.
The medication costs $2,125,000 annually per patient. However, it’s important to know that insurers may not cover Zolgensma as there are various requirements to obtain coverage. The OneGene program provides patients guidance and helps to navigate insurance requirements.
Zokinvy is a disease-modifying agent that can improve survival rates in children and young adults with Progeria, also called Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, a rare genetic disease that causes premature aging.
Zokinvy reduced the incidence of mortality by 60% and increased the average survival time by 2.5 years. For an annual dosage of Zokinvy, the medication typically costs $1,032,480. However, it’s important to know that because the disease is so uncommon, pharmaceutical companies typically won’t develop medications for it without a form of government assistance. The Eiger OneCare program can assist patients with insurance coverage and financial support options.
Danyelza is used to treat pediatric and adult patients with neuroblastoma in the bone or bone marrow, a rare form of cancer.
Danyelza has an annual cost of $977,664. Y-mAbs Connect is a program that can help patients navigate insurance, and offers a patient assistance program for eligible uninsured patients.
Myalept is used to treat leptin deficiency in patients with generalized lipodystrophy, a condition of abnormal fat distribution in the body. Myalept essentially replaces leptin in the body.
It is dispensed in a pharmacy and costs $889,904 per year. Patients self-administer Myalept once a day and typically use 14 vials per month. Aegerion Pharmaceuticals offers a copay card to help some patients afford Myalept.
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“Luxturna is a gene therapy medication used to treat an inherited form of retinal dystrophy that can lead to blindness,” according to Dr. Nouhavandi.
Luxturna requires a doctor to administer one vial of the medication into each eye which cannot be dispensed by a pharmacy; patients should only need Luxturna one time.
It costs $850,000 per year. Spark Therapeutics Generation Patient Services provides assistance to patients by helping them navigate insurance coverage and provides financial resources.
Folotyn is used for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory peripheral T-cell lymphoma, which is a condition in which the lymphoma does not respond to treatment (meaning that the cancer cells continue to grow) or when the response to treatment does not last very long.
Folotyn is an injection and costs about $793,870 per year. The recommended dosage of Folotyn is 30 mg/m 2 administered as an intravenous push over 3–5 minutes once weekly for 6 weeks, followed by 1 week of rest in a 7-week cycle.
Brineura is a prescription medication used to slow loss of ability to walk or crawl (ambulation) in symptomatic pediatric patients 3 years of age and older with late infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis type 2, a disease that affects the nervous system.
Brineura is only given by infusion into the fluid of the brain (known as an intraventricular injection) and using sterile technique to reduce the risk of infection. The recommended dosage is 300 mg every 2 weeks. The annual cost is $730,340.
Blincyto is used to treat a rare form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
Dosing for Blincyto is done in cycles and can only be performed by a healthcare provider. Patients need varying amounts of the medication during each phase. “The first cycle, known as the induction phase, is aimed to reduce the number of cancer cells. Cycles 2-4, known as the consolidation phase, helps new healthy cells grow,” says Dr. Nouhavandi.
Patients typically use about 168 vials per year. The annual price for Blincyto is $712,672.
Ravicti is used to treat urea cycle disorders. These disorders are genetic conditions that result in high levels of ammonia in the blood. They should not be left untreated, due to the serious risks: confusion, coma, or death.
Ravicti is dispensed in a pharmacy and doesn’t require administration from a healthcare practitioner. Patients are typically prescribed 132 bottles annually and have an annual list price of $695,970. Manufacturer Horizon Therapeutics offers a way for some patients to save on Ravicti through the Horizon Cares Patient Assistance Program.
Soliris is an infusion prescription medication used to treat adults with treat paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome; blood disorders that result in the destruction of red blood cells. Soliris comes with a high risk of infection. Because of this, the drug is part of a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program. Medications such as this, come with serious safety concerns and require a REMS program.
Many patients need a maintenance dose of 1200 mg every 2 weeks, which only a healthcare provider can administer and dosage may vary depending on the patient. The medication is priced at $678,392 per year. There is no copay card available for Soliris, but the OneSource program from manufacturer Alexion can help patients navigate health insurance.
According to Dr. Nouhavandi, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of online pharmacy HoneyBee Health, “the reason why so many of these medications are so expensive is usually because:
- They treat such rare disorders that are not commonly seen or
- They are usually highly effective and patients recover from their conditions or there aren't other treatment options. Some of them are only a one-time dose and do not require repetitive dosing, making it convenient for the patient.”
Reducing the Costs of Prescription Drugs
There are several ways you can reduce the costs of the prescription drugs you need. Below we list the best options and dive into what it is and how you can take advantage.
When prescribed a medication, you may be able to sign-up for a co-pay card through the drug manufacturer’s website. When enrolled in the co-pay program, you will receive a card that you can bring to the pharmacy when picking up your prescription.
The pharmacy can then process your prescription using your insurance as the primary payer and the copay information as the secondary payer. Ultimately, the manufacturer will pay whatever your insurance is not willing to pay for the drug.
However, if you are uninsured, co-pay cards may not be the best solution for you. Additionally, you should do your own research or speak to your medical provider to see if co-pay cards would work for your situation.
Drug Assistance Programs
Drug assistance programs are offered through pharmaceutical companies, drug manufacturers, non-profit groups, or state governments. They help patients get financial assistance to pay for prescription medications.
To begin the process, you would need to mail an application to the drug company with information about your financial situation. The application can usually be found on the company’s website and filled out online. Your doctor will also most likely need to provide information about your prescriptions.
Once reviewed by the drug company, they will let you know if you’re eligible for assistance. If you’re approved, many companies will ship a supply of the drug to your home or your doctor’s office. A new order of the drug will have to placed by you or your doctor every several weeks before the supply runs out.
A generic drug is a medication created to be the same as an existing approved brand-name drug in dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, and performance characteristics. They work in the same way and provides the same clinical benefit as their brand-name version.
Generic drugs are less expensive than brand-name drugs because the manufacturers have not had the expenses of developing and marketing a new drug. When a company brings a new drug onto the market, the firm has already spent substantial money on research, development, marketing, and promotion of the drug. Generic medications typically cost about 80% to 85% less than the same brand-name drug and may be a great way to reduce to costs of prescriptions.
Mira is an alternative solution when it comes to reducing the costs of prescription drugs. For just $45/mo, Mira members not only get up to 80% off prescriptions, but also access to urgent care clinics across the country, affordable lab testing, and more. MiraRx can help you reduce the costs of your prescription drugs and is oftentimes less expensive than going through insurance.
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Prescription drugs can be quite costly, especially drugs on the market that are known as “break-through” therapies. However, there are ways to access drugs at a reduced cost, such as using Mira, providing members with up to 80% off prescriptions, low-cost urgent care visits, and affordable lab testing. Sign-up and get started today.