The cost of health care in the United States has been increasing dramatically for years now, especially for certain brand name prescription medications. This price inflation is largely due to research and development costs. Still, there are other factors in play that continue to make health care exceedingly expensive for those who need it. Some of the most expensive medications can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per patient per year. Why is this the case, and what medications are this expensive?
Factors That Determine Prescription Drug Cost Through Patient Programs
As previously mentioned, much of the cost of health care goes toward the research and development phases of any drug on the market. However, the good news is that there are ways for patients to save money on medications. One of the most effective means of doing so is through the utilization of a patient assistance program or any federal and/or state government program. Still, there are several factors that determine your eligibility for patient assistance, which might include:
- your income
- your health insurance status
- government assistance coverage of your medication
- whether or not a generic or biosimilar equivalent is available
- the availability of rebates, discounts, patient deductibles or co-pays
- whether or not (and to what extent) your insurance covers your medication
A Short List of Some of This Year’s Most Expensive Medications
Cost: $230,826 per patient per year
Cinryze is a specialty medication that treats a rare and sometimes hereditary condition called angioedema. This disease, also called ‘giant hives’, is a form of severe swelling beneath the surface of the skin. Roughly one in every 50,000 people in the United States suffer from angioedema and many severe cases rely on regular medication for symptom relief. This particular medication is an injection that targets and treats swelling, especially in the eyes, hands, throat, and stomach.
Cost: $440,000 per patient per year
Soliris is an FDA-approved specialty medication used to treat a chronic blood disease called atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (AHUS). This disease targets and destroys red blood cells, which can lead to a number of other health complications like anemia and blood clots. It is such a rare condition that only about 8,000 people in the world have it.
Cost: $485,747 per patient per year
Naglazyme is a specialty medication that is usually prescribed to treat a rare genetic disorder called Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome. Unfortunately, rare disorders like Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome tend to be more expensive to treat. This condition is one that affects the connective tissues and causes organ enlargement. In addition, some of the more severe complications brought about by Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome include inhibited development, skeletal abnormalities, and heart problems.
Cost: $540,648 per patient per year
Folotyn is a specialty folate antagonist that treats a very aggressive form of cancer called peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL). Since PTLC is such a rare disease— one that only affects 9,500 people in the United States every year— folotyn is typically prescribed as a last resort.
Cost: $626,400 per patient per year
Lumizyme is specialty drug that treats Pompe disease, a genetic disorder characterized by the excess accumulation of glycogen in organ and muscle tissue. Part of what makes lumizyme such an effective treatment for Pompe disease is the glycogen-specific enzymes it contains. This specific enzyme breaks down and expels excess glycogen. As a result, the liver, heart, skeletal muscles, and nervous system strengthen and resume normal functions.
Cost: $793,000 per patient-per year
Ravicti, one of the most expensive medications in the country, is a specialty liquid medication that treats urea cycle disorders. Ranging from mild to life-threatening, these disorders are characterized by the accumulation of ammonia in the blood and tissues. Thankfully, urea cycle disorders are rare. In fact, only 2,100 people in the United States are affected every year. Still, going without treatment is dangerous. If left untreated, urea cycle disorders can result in medical complications, coma, or death.
Patience Assistance Available at Advocate My Meds
These are only a few of the many expensive specialty drugs available in America today. Unfortunately, some of the most expensive medications are the ones that treat exceptionally rare diseases. The argument of health care costs and prescription medication prices versus their value is one that will continue into the foreseeable future. In the meantime, if you are in need of a specialty drug for a rare condition, Advocate My Meds is here to help. Please review our programs and drug directory or call us at 877-596-1604 if you have any questions.