If healthy lifestyle changes like diet and exercise haven’t been enough to help you shed those pounds, your doctor may suggest that you turn to a weight loss medication, like Contrave. While patients may only take it for a short period of time, out of pocket costs for Contrave can reach well beyond $600 per month, and it may not be covered by some insurance companies. But GoodRx is here to help.
Losing weight is hard, but affording your diet medication shouldn’t be. Here’s some information on Contrave, and how you can save.
What is it?
Contrave is indicated for weight loss in adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. In some cases, adults with a BMI of 27 or higher will be prescribed Contrave if they have one or more weight-related conditions like hypertension, diabetes, or high cholesterol.
Contrave is a mixture of two well-known medications – bupropion, used to treat depression, and naltrexone used to combat opioid addiction. Contrave works to curb cravings, helping you say “no” to that extra scoop of ice cream. But, does it work?
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But, is it worth it?
A drug that claims to safely help you lose weight sounds too good to be true, so there must be a catch.
Let’s go over the benefits first. Contrave can help people lose a significant amount of weight if taken properly and combined with a healthy diet and exercise. In a recent study, patients lost 5-10% of their body weight on Contrave – that’s a pretty significant amount.
But, there are risks. Studies have shown that 1 in 4 people taking Contrave stopped taking it because of the side effects – like nausea, vomiting, anxiety, insomnia, constipation, and dizziness. Also, because Contrave contains bupropion, it carries the same black box warning as the anti-anxiety medication – which is the strongest warning from the FDA. According to the black box warning, in rare cases, Contrave can lead to increased suicidal thoughts and behaviors in young adults.
One last thing. Remember, Contrave is not intended to be used on its own – it should be combined with a healthy diet and exercise.
Are there any alternatives?
While there isn’t a perfect pill to help you lose weight, there are other options. These may or may not be significantly less expensive; depending on your insurance coverage, some alternatives might be more affordable.
- Phentermine (Adipex-P). This is the old school option – phentermine has been around since 1959. Because it has been around for so long, it is safe and affordable – a 30-day supply will only cost you around $10. There are some downsides though – phentermine is addictive, and can cause side effects like dry mouth, and high blood pressure.
- Saxenda. Saxenda is a higher dose of a common diabetes medication, Victoza, and has been around since late 2014. While not on the market as long as phentermine, Saxenda has proven to work – people using Saxenda lost 8% of their body weight. Saxenda is injected rather than taken orally, so if you’re not on board with injections, this is not for you. Also, Saxenda is expensive – a 30-day supply can cost well over $1,200, even with a GoodRx coupon.
- Belviq. Approved in 2012, Belviq is a 10 mg tablet taken twice daily, and titration isn’t required. With few side effects, Belviq may sound like a great choice, but it’s not all good news. The biggest downside for Belviq is the cost – the average retail price for a 30-day supply is $322 – and few insurance companies cover it.
- Qsymia: Treat this one as a last resort. An active ingredient in Qsymia, topiramate, has been linked to birth defects in pregnant women. Because of that, the FDA imposed a Risk Evaluation Management Strategy program on Qsymia, which means that you can only get it from certified pharmacies who will teach you how to titrate the drug properly.
Contrave works best for me, how can I save?
Bottom line: without insurance, Contract is expensive. Cash paying patients will have to shell out as much as $600 for a 30 day supply. Here’s how you can save.
- Manufacturer savings. Manufacturer Orexigen offers a savings program for both insured and uninsured patients. If your plan does not cover Contrave, or you don’t have insurance, sign up for the savings card here, and pay as little as $1 per day. There is also an option to receive free home delivery for Contrave. Visit Contrave’s website here for more information.
- Use a GoodRx Coupon. GoodRx can help you save on brand-name medications too. A GoodRx coupon can reduce your out of pocket cost for Contrave by as much as 20% – to $235 for a 30-day supply. Yes, that’s still pricey, but every little bit helps.
- Try to appeal your coverage. Other than phentermine, all of these weight loss medications are brand-name only and aren’t covered by some insurance companies. If you have insurance and your plan doesn’t cover Contrave, ask your doctor about submitting an appeal. Some plans require prior authorizations—meaning you need permission from your insurance plan and a special request from your doctor before you can fill your prescription. If you have insurance, call your provider and ask how to get this process started.