These price increases, among others, have shed necessary light on price hiking and transparency, and have caused many states to take this matter into their own hands. At the moment, 23 states are stepping up their efforts on drug pricing by proposing bills that take on the rising cost of drug pricing.
What is drug pricing transparency?
First off, it’s great for your pocketbook. Drug pricing transparency would require pharmaceutical companies and middlemen (like pharmacy benefit managers) to be less secretive about the actual costs of their medications.
Who would benefit?
Essentially everyone, minus those with a hidden agenda. Providing drug pricing will ensure affordable and accessible prescription drugs for consumers.
What’s going on in California?
Exciting things! Governor Jerry Brown just signed the SB-17 drug transparency bill. This bill requires that pharmaceutical companies give the state of California 60 days notice anytime they plan to raise the price of a drug by 16% or more over 2 years. The companies would also have to explain why the increases are necessary. In addition, health insurers would have to report what percentage of premium increases are caused by drug spending.
California also has another bill, AB-265, which would prohibit drug companies from offering coupons and other discounts to brand-name drugs that have an alternative cheaper generic available. This bill has yet to get to the governor but has passed in the Senate.
Vermont passed a bill in 2016 that requires pharmaceutical companies to provide justification for drug price hikes.
Each year the Green Mountain Care Board in collaboration with the Department of Vermont Health Access identifies drugs that have experienced price hikes by 50% or more over the past five years, or by 15% more over the past 12 months. For drugs that have experienced increases, the state can fine the pharmaceutical companies.
What about Nevada?
In June, Nevada passed a bill that focuses solely on the cost of diabetes medications. However, it is currently facing lawsuits from pharmaceutical lobbying groups, as they claim that it is unconstitutional and possibly violates patient rights. More to come on this!
What’s going on with the bill in Ohio?
The Ohio Drug Price Act is an initiative that aims to cut pricing. Or does it?
This act would mandate that the state agencies pay no more for prescription drugs than the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, which typically gets a 24% discount on the price of drugs from pharmaceutical companies.
However, this bill does not apply to those with private health insurance; therefore, if passed Ohioans insured through their employers could actually see drug prices go up in order for the drug companies to regain the money lost from selling to certain buyers at a lower rate. A similar bill in California flopped just last year!
It seems like more bills are being proposed every day. Stay tuned, we will keep you in the loop.
It’s the beginning of the school year, which means that it is time to prepare for the little bugs that get passed around the classroom, lice!
Head lice are parasitic insects that can be found on the head, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Preschool and elementary school-aged children, as well as their parents and caregivers, are at the greatest risk for lice infestation. The most common way to spread lice is through head-to-head contact, which can easily happen when children are playing.
Here are some tips from the pharmacist to help prevent and treat head lice.
Try over the counter options first
There are over the counter (OTC) options that can be used if your child has lice. OTC items like Nix are available at your local grocery store. Using an OTC option first can save you money, as many of the prescription-only items can be costly, and may not be covered by your insurance.
Prescription treatment is available
If you’re unable to get rid of lice using OTC products, your doctor can write you a prescription for lice treatment. The following are examples of prescription-only lice treatment.
- Sklice is for children 6 months of age and older. It is a 10-minute treatment that doesn’t require any nit combing. The manufacturer offers a savings program that can reduce your co-pay to at least $30. For more information, visit their website here.
- Ovide is a lotion used on children 6 years of age and older. Keep in mind that it is flammable, and a second treatment may be required after seven days if lice are still present.
- Ulesfia is for children 6 months of age and older. Be sure to repeat the treatment after seven days. The manufacturer offers a savings program that can reduce your co-pay to as little as $10. For more information, visit their website here.
- Natroba is a topical solution indicated for children 6 months of age and older. Nit combing is not required, but using a fine-tooth comb may be helpful to remove dead lice and nits.
Don’t share personal items
Teaching your child to share is an important life lesson; however, some personal items should not be shared in order to protect against spreading lice. Make sure your child knows that personal items like brushes, hats, helmets, headbands, and towels should not be shared.
Check with your state department of health
Each state department will have information on symptoms, treatments, and guidance for lice prevention and treatment. Refer to your state’s department of health website for more information.
Cialis, approved to treat both ED and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), has about a year left on the countdown to its generic. Viagra will likely be available as a generic before Cialis.
Here’s all you need to know about the upcoming generic launch and how to keep your costs down while you wait.
When will generic Cialis be available?
After a patent dispute was resolved in the summer of 2017, Cialis is expected to be available as generic tadalafil as early as September of 2018. Previously, Cialis was expected to remain brand-only until 2020.
How popular is Cialis?
On GoodRx, Cialis is currently the second most popular PDE5 inhibitor, the class of medications that also includes Viagra and Levitra. It’s the most popular of the medications specifically used to treat ED (sildenafil / Revatio is the most popular in the class, but it is only approved for pulmonary arterial hypertension).
Have Cialis prices changed recently?
Cialis prices have moderately increased. Cialis is already expensive, and as a brand with no generic, there isn’t much competition. Like many brand-only drugs, Cialis prices have crept up slowly. Over the past 6 months, cash prices for Cialis have increased from about $370 to over $400—based on actual pharmacy claims for fills of thirty 5 mg tablets.
What will generic Cialis cost?
Generally, generic drugs first appear on the market at about a 15% discount to the brand. Unlike the brand, however, generic drug prices typically decrease very quickly. Within a year of release, many generics versions of prescriptions can become very affordable, especially if multiple companies are making the generic.
Cash prices for Cialis—thirty 5 mg tablets, the most common dosage—are currently about $400.
The latest GoodRx estimate is that generic Cialis will initially cost between $300 – 350. While this is still not affordable for most people, keep in mind:
- Discount prices will also decrease, probably by a similar amount. That could mean GoodRx prices at less than $275 for the same prescription, a savings of almost $100.
- Generics are more likely to be covered by insurance, so you may end up with a far lower out-of-pocket cost if you’re insured.
- Again, generic prices tend to go down quickly. Many generics drop to about 50% of the brand price after more than one manufacturer enters the market—increasing competition.
Are there any cheaper medications I can try for ED?
While Cialis doesn’t have a generic yet, there are other options to consider.
- First and possibly most important—Viagra will get a generic alternative before Cialis, by the end of 2017.
- Compare prices (whether you have insurance or not). Look at Cialis vs Viagra (sildenafil) or Levitra (vardenafil)—other common choices in the same class—along with Stendra (avanafil) and Staxyn (vardenafil). They may or may not be cheaper now—but both do offer manufacturer coupons and patient assistance programs, which Cialis does not. See manufacturer offers for Viagra here and Levitra here.
- If you have insurance, check your coverage. Many plans don’t cover ED drugs, but some will offer coverage for one or two preferred brands. You may be able to pay less at the pharmacy for Viagra or Levitra.
- Generic sildenafil (Revatio) is much less expensive, and is used by some patients to treat erection problems. However, take note that it is only approved by the FDA for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Your doctor will be able to give you advice on whether sildenafil could be an option for you.
- For more information on how Cialis, Cialis side effects, and how Cialis compares to other ED medications, check out Iodine’s comparisons with Viagra here and Levitra here. As always, you’ll want to discuss with your doctor if you think another medication might work better for you.
Cialis still works best for me—how can I save before the generic is released?
- Filling a 90-day supply at once can often help shave a little more off your out-of-pocket costs. You may also need a new prescription from your doctor, or approval from your insurance to fill a higher quantity, so check with your doctor, pharmacist, and/or insurance.
- Splitting a higher dosage pill can also help decrease costs, especially if two strengths are priced similarly. You’ll want to ask your doctor to make sure this is safe and a good option for you.
- Use a Cialis coupon. GoodRx does offer discounts for Cialis online. While this may not make it affordable for everyone, a coupon can still knock at least 15% off the full retail price.
- Try again to get it covered. If you have insurance and your plan doesn’t cover Cialis, ask your doctor about submitting an appeal. For conditions like ED this may not always work, but could still be worth a try.
What is a biosimilar?
Without getting too technical, biosimilars are basically the generic product of a biologic (a medication made from a living organism). However, because these medications are made out of living cells they are slightly different. The good news about biosimilars is that they are typically 15%-30% less expensive than their reference drug.
For more information about biologics and biosimilars, read our blog here.
What is Cyltezo indicated for?
Cyltezo is approved for the following 7 conditions:
- Pediatric patients 4 years of age and older with moderate to severe active polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis
- Moderate to severe active adult Crohn’s disease
- Moderate to severe active ulcerative colitis
- Moderate to severe plaque psoriasis
- Active ankylosing spondylitis (arthritis of the spine)
- Active psoriatic arthritis
Keep in mind that Cyltezo is only approved for 7 indications whereas Humira has 10 indications. These three indications that Humira also treats include uveitis, hidradenitis suppurativa, and pediatric Crohn’s disease.
How will Cyltezo be sold?
Cyltezo will be available in a single-use prefilled glass syringe in the dosage of 40 mg/0.8 ml. The manufacturer, Boehringer Ingelheim, will also seek approval for an auto-injector in the future.
What are the most common side effects of Cyltezo?
The most common side effects include infections, injection site reactions, headache or rash.
Although these two are both biosimilars for Humira, they are different. Amjevita will be available additionally in a single-use prefilled glass syringe in the 20 mg/0.4 mL strength as well as a SureClick autoinjector in the 40 mg/0.8 mL strength.
Is Amjevita currently available?
How much will Cyltezo cost?
No. Although Cyltezo is a biosimilar, it is not interchangeable.
Interchangeable products are usually known as generic medications and can be substituted for a brand name medication if available and without needing to consult the prescriber. Your doctor must write your prescription for Cyltezo if this is the medication that is intended for you to use.
Since the FDA created the Priority Review Program, aimed at fast tracking the development of drugs used to treat serious conditions, new hepatitis C medications are being approved at a faster rate.
Recently, the FDA approved Mavyret, a new combination medication for hepatitis C.
What is Mavyret prescribed for?
Mavyret is a combination medication indicated for the treatment of all major genotypes for chronic hepatitis C.
Mavyret will be available as a combination tablet in the strength of 100mg/40mg, supplied in a 4-week (monthly) dose wallet. The recommended dose is 3 tablets once daily, for 8 weeks, with food. You may need to take Mavyret for longer than 8 weeks if you have been previously treated with other medications, or have mild liver disease.
What are the most common side effects associated with Mavyret?
The most common side effects include headache and fatigue. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you experience any of these side effects for a prolonged period of time.
Is there anything unique about Mavyret?
Yes. Mavyret is the only 8-week treatment for patients with hepatitis C, without liver disease, who have not been treated before.
How much will Mavyret cost?
Abbvie has priced Mavyret at $13,200 per month, or $26,400 per treatment course, before discounts. Although this is still expensive, Macyret is priced significantly lower than other hepatitis C treatments. For instance, popular medications Epclusa, Sovaldi and Harvoni are priced at $74,760, $84,000, and $94,500 respectively.
There is good news, though! Abbie offers a co-pay assistance program for commercially insured patients. If you are eligible, you may pay as little as $5 per co-pay using their Abbvie HCV Co-Pay Card. Visit the website here, and call 1-877-628-9738 to learn more and find out if you are eligible.