Prescriptions That Cost More Than Your Car
DNY59/istockphoto

18 Prescription Drugs That Cost More Than a Car

View Slideshow
Prescriptions That Cost More Than Your Car
DNY59/istockphoto

Auto Refills

Prescription drugs cost patients plenty, but the most expensive among them can be as much per year as a car (an average of $30,000 a year for older adults using brand name prescription drugs according to AARP). In some cases, health insurance won't even help with the cost. Single-payer health care in other countries puts a greater burden on U.S. consumers and insurers, and research and development costs help drive up drug prices. But so does a lack of competition, generic or otherwise, and advertising expenses of more than $5 billion a year, which is why you should never let glossy ads guide your medication. With help from GoodRx, we found 18 drugs that cost patients as much as they'd pay for cars, trucks or SUVs outright.

Remodulin
Courtesy of hcp.remodulin.com

Remodulin

What it treats: pulmonary arterial hypertension
Cost: $25,466 per month or $305,592 annually
While a month of Remodulin, which promises to improve quality of life for those suffering from pulmonary hypertension, costs as much as a Chevrolet Colorado pick-up truck, the good news is that a generic version of the drug is now available at a much lower price. 

Cerdelga
Courtesy of cerdelga.co.uk

Cerdelga

What it treats: Gaucher disease
Cost: $26,000 a month or $312,000 a year
Treating Gaucher disease, an inherited metabolic disorder, can cost as much per month as a low-end Kia Optima. Luckily, one of the other drugs that treats it, Zavesca, was recently pulled off this list because it went generic, resulting in lower prices. 

Tibsovo
Courtesy of tibsovo.com

Tibsovo

What it treats: acute myeloid leukemia
Cost: $26,115 per month or $313,380 annually
The cost of Tibsovo per month could buy a Honda Civic, but users may have other concerns beyond price. Sometimes Guillain-Barré syndrome can develop in those using the drug, which can progress to paralysis. 

Orfadin
Courtesy of sobi.com

Orfadin

What it treats:Hepatitis C
Costs: $27,247 a month or $326,964 annually
Hep C is a costly disease to treat, as it shows up on this list more than once (although one medication, Harvoni, recently went generic). Just one month of Orfadin treatment could buy a Mazda 3

Sovaldi
Courtesy of knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu

Sovaldi

What it treats: Hepatitis C
Cost: $28,000 a month or $84,000 a year
Gilead makes Harvoni and Solvadi, but most insurance carriers won't cover either anymore (though Harvoni went generic last year, resulting in a price low enough to drop off this list). For a slight price reduction, Solvadi can be taken 12 weeks at $1,000 per tablet. The monthly price would buy you a Kia Niro for each month of treatment. 

Cuprimine
Courtesy of cvs.com

Cuprimine

What it treats: Wilson's disease
Cost: $31,426 a month or $377,112 a year
Cuprimine has been around since the 1970s and prevents copper buildup in patients with Wilson's disease. Congress has lashed out at maker Valeant for keeping the cost of the drug as high as that of a Ford Mustang Convertible simply because it can.

Firazyr
Courtesy of firazyr.com

Firazyr

What it treats: Hereditary angioedema
Cost: $32,468 a month or $389,616 a year
Like Cinryze (found further along on this list), Firazyr is made by Shire for this same disease. Unlike Cinryze, which prevents swelling before an attack, Firazyr is used after an attack. With patients suffering an average two to four attacks monthly, most fill one carton (three syringes) of Fyrazyr every month for the price of a Kia Soul.

Vitrakvi
Courtesy of hcp.vitrakvi-us.com

Vitrakvi

What it treats: solid-state cancerous tumors
Cost:$32,800 a month or $393,600 annually
This medication only works for people whose cancer tests positive for a specific gene mutation. The good news is that Bayer, who recently took over the licensing for the drug, says costs for most patients will be $20 a month or less, and the company will help with expensive insurance co-pays. That's good news, as the list price could buy a Honda Accord a month.

Ravicti
Courtesy of ravicti.com

Ravicti

What it treats: managing the amount of ammonia in the blood of people with urea cycle disorders (UCDs)
Cost: $33,572 a month or $402,864 annually
It would be possible to buy a Nissan Leaf every month for the cost of a year's supply of Ravicti, but those who need the drug to control ammonia production, which in someone with a UCD can cause brain damage, coma or even death. Unfortunately, Ravicti had some unpleasant side effects, such as possible retching, abnormal body order, and nausea.

Tegsedi
Courtesy of tegsedi.com

Tegsedi

What it treats: nerve damage in patients with hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis (hATTR)
Cost:$34,600 or $415,200 a year
It would be possible to snap up a Chevrolet Bolt EV every month for the price of this drug, which treats a hereditary disorder that causes an abnormal build-up of protein in the tissues and affects 50,000 people worldwide. The extreme price isn't the only downside — Tegsedi also has a black box warning for thrombocytopenia, a deficiency of platelets in the blood.

H.P. Acthar
Courtesy of actharis.com

H.P. Acthar

What it treats: Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, infantile spasms, ophthalmic conditions, psoriatic arthritis, other conditions
Cost: $38,892 a month or $466,704 a year
Corticotrophin, this drug's active ingredient, has been used since the 1950s and cost as little as $40 a month back in 2001. The version Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals got approved in 2010 runs nearly $39,000 for a vial. That's about as much as a Jaguar E-Pace SUV.

Juxtapid
Courtesy of cvs.com

Juxtapid

What it treats: Homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia
Cost: $40,671 a month or $488,052 a year
The rarer the condition, the more expensive the drug. Aegerion makes Juxtapid to treat a gene mutation that leads to cardiovascular disease, with patients typically taking 28 capsules monthly for an annual price just slightly higher than buying a 12-vehicle fleet of GMC Sierra 2500HD Dual Cab pickup trucks. Another drug to treat the disease, Kynmaro, was discontinued last year.

Chenodal
Courtesy of retrophin.com

Chenodal

What it treats: Gallstones
Cost: $42,570 a month or $510,840 a year
There are far cheaper options out there, like Ursodiol at $25 to $45 a month, but manufacturer Retrophin hiked the price of this one fivefold per pill back in 2014 when a guy named Martin Shkreli was in charge. Chenodal is off patent and technically should be available as an affordable generic, but it's protected under a "closed distribution system" that prevents generic drug makers from buying a brand-name drug. That helps keep its monthly cost just under the equivalent of buying a BMW X3 SUV each month.

Takhzyro
Courtesy of takhzyro.com

Takhzyro

What it treats:hereditary angioedema
Cost:$44,140 a month or $529,680 per year
For this price, it would be possible to buy a Tesla Model 3 every month — but watchdog group ICER (Institute for Clinical and Economic Review) says the return on investment is depressingly low for this hereditary angioedema (HAE) treatment. Taking Takhzyro costs $1 million per quality-adjusted life year gained. 

Cinryze
Courtesy of cinryze.com

Cinryze

What it treats: Hereditary angioedema
Cost: $44,141 a month or $529,692 a year
What manufacturer Shire bills for a one-month supply (16 vials) could buy a 2019 Dodge Challenger every month and still save a bit. That price is so lofty because hereditary angioedema — a genetic condition that causes swelling in parts of the body including hands, face, and throat — is incredibly rare and life-threatening.

Daraprim
Courtesy of daraprimdirect.com

Daraprim

What it treats: Toxoplasmosis, pneumonia, other infections
Cost: $45,000 for a one-month supply (60 pills)
First used in 1953, Daraprim was selling for $13.50 a pill as recently as 2015 and was used by patients with HIV to ward off infection. Turing Pharmaceutical, capitalizing on a growing market for older "orphan drugs" used by smaller populations, bought the drug and raised the price — Martin Shkreli again. There are other, lower-cost options such as Bactrim (as little as $4 for 20 tablets), but those who still want a treatment that costs roughly as much as a base-model Jaguar F-Pace have to hope insurance will pay for much of it.

Myalept
Courtesy of myalept.com

Myalept

What it treats: Leptin deficiency in patients with generalized lipodystrophy
Cost: $46,328 a month or $555,936 a year
Myalept is the only option for treating this rare disease, which prevents the body from producing and maintaining healthy fat tissue. With no cheaper options available, this treatment of 10 vials per month monopolizes the market, an "orphan drug" that won't yield a generic any time soon and keeps its monthly price at roughly that of an Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

Actimmune
Courtesy of actimmune.com

Actimmune

What it treats: Osteoporosis and chronic granulomatous disease
Cost: $52,322 a month or $627,864 a year
Granulomatous disease is a rare disorder that causes the immune system to malfunction, and why Horizon Pharma can charge so much for its Actimmune. Patients typically take it three times a week, going through 12 single-use vials a month at $4,360 a vial. That's equivalent to buying a Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class SUV every month.