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Top 10 Most Expensive Medications

Authored by The Rx Advocates, / Medically Reviewed by Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS
Last Updated: June 17, 2021

Why are Drugs Expensive?

The most expensive drugs are usually brand-name. A brand-name medication is a drug that is discovered, developed, and marketed by a pharmaceutical company. When a pharmaceutical company develops a drug, they patent it so that no other company can use the formula. This method is utilized in the United States because it provides incentive for drug companies to develop new medications.

During the life of the patent, the pharmaceutical company is the only company that can make and sell the medication. Overall, this means that the drug company can set the price. On average pharmaceutical companies spend $2.7 billion to develop a drug. This large amount spent by a drug company is an investment, and during the life of the patent, they will try to make back the money they spent.

Furthermore, there are drugs that are used to treat very rare diseases. These drugs are usually very expensive because there are only a few patients who will buy them, this makes it more difficult for the drug company to make back the money they spent on development. The majority of the most expensive medications are used to rare medical conditions.

What are the Top 10 Most Expensive Medications?

1. Actimmune

This drug is approved for osteopetrosis and chronic granulomatous disease, which is a rare disorder that causes a malfunction in the immune system. A patient will typically use 12 vials per month which amounts to $52,321.

2. Daraprim

This drug is commonly given to AIDS and transplant patients to prevent infections and to treat toxoplasmosis. Patients are usually only on this drug for a couple of months. The list price for a one-month supply is $45,000.

3. Cinryze

This drug is used to treat hereditary angioedema, which is a life-threatening condition that causes swelling throughout the body, including the face and throat. A typical one-month supply for this medication costs $44,140.

4. Chenodal

This is a drug that is used to dissolve gallstones. Most patients are given 90 tablets a month, which costs $42,570.

5. Myalept

This drug is used to treat a rare condition of generalized lipodystrophy. A one-month supply for this medicine costs $42,137.

6. H.P. Acthar

This drug is used to treat multiple conditions such as Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, infantile spasms, ophthalmic conditions, psoriatic arthritis, and many more. A one-month supply costs $38,892.

7. Juxtapid

This medication is used to treat people who have homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia. A one-month supply for this medicine costs $36,992.

8. Firazyr

This drug is also used to treat hereditary angioedema, specifically to treat patients with attacks of swelling. Most patients will have two to four attacks per month and three treatments will cost $32,468.

9. Harvoni

This medication is a combination treatment to treat hepatitis C. The treatment for hepatitis C is usually 12 weeks. A one-month supply for this medication is $31,500.

10. Cuprimine

This drug removes copper build-up in patients who have Wilson’s Disease. The monthly cost for this treatment is $31,426.

What Can I Do to Reduce the Cost of My Prescriptions?

Most pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance programs. These programs offer their drugs at little or no cost to patients. Unfortunately, many patients do not know that these assistance programs exist.

If you are finding that buying one of the top 10 most expensive medications is causing financial hardship, applying for a patient assistance program could be a good option for you.

Navigating patient assistance programs can be difficult. If you would like help applying, or have any questions, please call The Rx Advocates.

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