Prescription drug prices in the U.S. are ski-high. Americans pay significantly more on medications than the rest of the world. According to a recent report, most consumers can afford medical treatment, but one in four is struggling to pay for his meds.
The average American spends around $1,200 on prescription drugs annually. That's significantly more compared to what people are paying in Switzerland, Germany, France, Sweden, and other countries.
Specialty drugs, such as those prescribed for cancer or rare conditions, are the most expensive.
However, $1,200 per year is nothing compared to the price of certain medicines. The most expensive drugs cost over $2 million for a single dose. And no, that's not a typo.
These costs are partly due to the limited competition between drug companies and partly due to the lack of regulation governing how medicines are priced.
But don't just take our word for it. Let's take a quick look at the most expensive prescription drugs in the U.S.
Zolgensma, the most expensive drug ever created, has received U.S. approval earlier this year. A single dose costs $2.1 million.
This medication is prescribed to those suffering from spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic neuromuscular disease that causes muscle wasting and loss of motor neurons. Its primary symptoms include difficulty swallowing, limpness, overall muscle weakness, and twitching of the tongue.
Spinal muscular atrophy is currently treated with physical therapy, breathing exercises, assistive devices, and medications.
Unfortunately, many sufferers don't respond to the drugs prescribed for this disorder. Some experience adverse reactions.
Zolgensma was developed by the Swiss company Novartis. Unlike conventional meds, it targets the root cause of the disease. Manufacturers say that its effects will last a lifetime.
With a price tag of $300,000 per year, Lumizyme is one of the most expensive drugs in the U.S. and worldwide.
This medicine appeals to Pompe disease sufferers, replacing the missing or deficient GAA (acid alpha-glucosidase) enzyme. It needs to be administered intravenously every two weeks. Its side effects range from allergic reactions to hives, rashes, flushing, and high blood pressure.
Pompe disease is a genetic muscular disorder characterized by glycogen buildup in the cells and tissues. It's common among newborns, but it may also occur in adulthood. It causes an enlarged liver, poor muscle tone, weakness in the legs, and respiratory problems
About one in 40,000 Americans suffer from this debilitating disease. Although physiotherapy may help, Lumizyme and Myozyme (which contains the same active ingredient) are the only treatments approved by the FDA so far.
Hepatitis C patients had to pay a whopping $171,000 on Sovaldi, or sofosbuvir, back in 2015. Its price is even higher today.
This infectious disease affects the liver, causing inflammation, joint pain, poor appetite, fatigue, jaundice, and chronic infection. Over time, it may lead to hepatic cancer and liver failure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 44,300 Americans had hepatitis C in 2017.
Current treatments have been proven effective in over 90 percent of cases, points out the CDC. Therefore, Sovaldi isn't your only option.
If you're looking for a more affordable alternative, consider buying from Canadian pharmacies. The order process is quite straightforward and takes just a few minutes. Plus, you'll get a better price by purchasing your meds online.
Ravicti, or glycerol phenylbutyrate, is prescribed for urea cycle disorders, which affect approximately 2,100 Americans. Its average annual price ranges between $556,000 and $800,000, depending on the supplier.
Urea cycle disorders are relatively rare. These genetic diseases cause ammonia buildup in the body, which can be fatal. Ravicti inhibits the accumulation of toxins and helps prevent neurological damage.
Compared to most drugs, this medication is relatively safe. It only has mild to moderate adverse effects, such as fatigue, amenorrhea, and somnolence.
At a price list of $750k for the first year of treatment, Sprinraza is one of the most expensive medications on the U.S. market. Like Zolgensma, it's prescribed for spinal muscular atrophy.
This drug acts on the central nervous system. Despite its efficacy, it carries serious side effects. Kidney toxicity, coagulation abnormalities, and respiratory infections are just a few to mention.
Actimmune, a drug prescribed for severe malignant osteopetrosis and chronic granulomatous disease, costs more than half a million dollars per year.
This medication is made from human proteins and may improve the body's ability to fight infections.
According to its manufacturer, Actimmune may lower the risk of serious infections by up to 67 percent. The downside is that it may cause flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, chills, and fever, especially when administered in high doses.
A single dose of Soliris costs $18,000. The total cost of treatment is around $500,000 per year, according to the American Council on Science and Health.
This prescription drug is recommended to those with atypical hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting over 200,000 people in the U.S. alone. When administered regularly, it helps prevent red blood cell destruction.
Atypical hemolytic-uremic syndrome promotes blood clot formation in the blood vessels in the kidneys. If left untreated, it can affect renal function, leading to anemia and kidney failure.
Sufferers typically require lifelong dialysis and have poor survival rates. A larger number of deaths are due to infections. Hypertension, digestive distress, kidney disease, and fatigue are all common symptoms.
Save Money on the Most Expensive Drugs
These are just a few of the most expensive drugs on the market. Luckily, they're not your only options. Several other medications contain the same active ingredients and may work just as well.
Discuss your treatment options with a qualified medical professional. Don't hesitate to ask for a second opinion. If your meds come with a high price tag, go online and look for more affordable alternatives.
Internet-based pharmacies often have lower prices. Plus, you can choose generic drugs over brand-name medicines for further savings. Again, it's important to consult your doctor and then decide accordingly.
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