Between missed work, doctors visits and medical costs, the flu can get expensive. To shorten the duration of the flu, some folks turn to Tamiflu, but it’s not cheap. Brand-name Tamiflu can cost more than $160 for one treatment, and the generic, oseltamivir, can cost well over $100.
Luckily, there are some ways for you to save.
What is Tamiflu?
Tamiflu and the generic, oseltamivir, are used to prevent the flu and shorten the duration of an active flu—specifically flus caused by the influenza A and B viruses. If taken within the first 48 hours of getting the flu, Tamiflu blocks the actions of the influenza virus on your body, and shortens how long you are contagious. Some also take Tamiflu for up to six weeks for flu prevention.
Side effects of Tamiflu include nausea, vomiting, headache and skin pain. Children and teenagers taking Tamiflu may experience more severe side effects like seizures, confusion, hallucinations and abnormal behaviors.
Savings tip #1: Use your insurance
The best way to save on Tamiflu is to use your insurance if the drug is covered. Unfortunately, Tamiflu and generic oseltamivir aren’t covered by many insurance plans, which means you will likely have to pay out of pocket.
If you ever find that your drug isn’t covered by your insurance plan, you can always work with your doctor to submit an appeal. You may need to work quickly though since Tamiflu should be taken within 48 hours of getting the flu, which doesn’t leave much time for you to go through the appeals process with your insurer.
Savings tip #2: Use a GoodRx coupon
If you don’t have insurance, or find that your plan doesn’t cover Tamiflu, try GoodRx. With a GoodRx coupon, you can pay as little as $50 for generic oseltamivir. Search for discounts for Tamiflu on GoodRx.com or on our mobile app.
Savings tip #3: Talk to your doctor about alternatives
There are four options for prescription medications to treat influenza: Xofluza, Relenza, Rapivab and of course, Tamiflu.
Xofluza was just approved in October, and can treat the flu faster than Tamiflu with one single dose. Patients who weigh 80 kg or less take one 40 mg dose, and those weighing over 80kg take one 80 mg dose. Since Xofluza is so new, it may not be covered by your insurance just yet, which means you may have to pay over $150 out of pocket for it.
Relenza is sold as an oral inhaler and has been shown in studies to reduce the duration of symptoms by around 1.3 days. Just like Tamiflu, it appears there is no benefit to taking Relenza if you have been sick for 30 hours or more. Keep in mind that since it is an oral inhaler, Relenza cannot be used in patients with asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions. The lowest GoodRx price for the most common version of Relenza is around $63.95, 18% off the average retail price of $78.44.
Rapivab was approved in 2014 and is the first influenza medication to be administered intravenously. Since it is administered through an IV, Rapivab can quickly target the flu virus and alleviate your symptoms within 21 hours. The downside to Rapivab? It’s really expensive. Three vials, the typical amount needed for treatment, can cost around $1000.
Unsure of which one to talk about with your doctor? Look at each medication’s delivery method and cost at your pharmacy, especially if you have insurance, to help you make your decision.
Savings tip #4: Try over the counter remedies
Don’t forget about the more affordable over-the-counter (OTC) medications available at your local pharmacy. OTC medications like Advil or DayQuil may not be able to fight the flu virus, but they can help relieve symptoms.
If you’re looking to treat the symptoms of your flu without visiting your doctor or taking Tamiflu, our friends at Iodine have a tool to help. Iodine’s cold and flu tool compares flu medications to help you decide the best treatment for your symptoms. For more information about available over-the-counter flu medications, see our blog post here.
Savings tip #5: Prevent the flu with the flu vaccine
It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine, and there are some ways to save. Prices for the flu shot can range from $0 to $50 or more, depending on your insurance and the pharmacy you visit. Read our post here to find out where you can get the flu shot for cheap.
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