Merck Drops Price for Hepatitis C Drug by 60%: GoodRx Monthly Report

Tori Marsh
Tori Marsh, MPH, is on the Research Team at GoodRx, and is the resident expert on drug pricing and savings.
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Finally, some good news. This past October, amid efforts by the Trump administration aimed at improving drug price transparency, prices for some popular drugs dropped drastically.

According to the GoodRx Index, drug manufacturer Merck reduced the list price for Zepatier by 60% and six other drugs by around 10% each.

The GoodRx Index also showed the following trends during the month of October:

This data reflects overall US prescriptions (not fills using GoodRx) and comes from several sources, including pharmacies and insurers, providing a representative sample of nationwide US prescription drug volume.

 

 

Manufacturer Merck decreased list prices for seven drugs

Merck, a popular manufacturer of vaccines and oncology drugs, reduced the list price of seven drugs this October. These reductions had first been announced back in July, when Merck pledged to adopt a responsible pricing model, which included cutting prices of drugs and keeping price hikes under the annual inflation rate.

Zepatier, used to treat hepatitis C, saw the biggest price decrease in October after Merck dropped its list price by 60%. A large decrease, but some question how big of a move this was for Merck. According to The Hill, “Zepatier is not a key part of Merck’s business, and hasn’t been as profitable as other drugs in its portfolio.” What’s more, Zepatier isn’t a first-line treatment for hepatitis C, since it only treats two out of six hepatitis C genotypes.

In any case, a price reduction is still good news, and Merck also decreased prices for other medications by around 10%. Here’s a breakdown of these price reductions.

 

Drug Name Strength List price decreases New lower price (per unit)
Prinivil 5 mg tablet -10.0% $1.44
Prinivil 20 mg tablet -10.2% $1.59
Prinivil 10 mg tablet -10.2% $1.49
Proscar 5 mg tablet -10.1% $4.71
Remeron 15 mg orally disintegrating tablet -10.2% $4.25
Remeron 45 mg orally disintegrating tablet -10.0% $4.66
Remeron 30 mg orally disintegrating tablet -10.1% $4.38
Remeron 15 mg tablet -10.1% $5.34
Remeron 30 mg tablet -10.1% $5.50
Sinemet 25 mg/250 mg tablet -10.2% $1.49
Sinemet 10 mg/100 mg tablet -10.3% $1.04
Sinemet 25 mg/100 mg tablet -10.7% $1.17
Sinemet CR 50 mg/200 mg tablet -10.0% $2.52
Sinemet CR 25 mg/100 mg tablet -10.3% $1.31
Trusopt 10 ml of 2% eye dropper -10.1% $7.58
Zepatier 50 mg/100 mg tablet -60.0% $260.00

 

These prices are based on each drug’s list price—the price set by the drug manufacturer. Prices are in unit price, which is the price for one tablet or one milliliter, where applicable.

 

 

Fills for flu vaccines spiked

The GoodRx Index also picked up movement among the most prescribed drugs in October. Fills for the popular quadrivalent flu vaccines, Fluarix, Afluria, Flucelvax and Fluzone doubled in some cases compared to fills in September, placing these vaccinations among the top 100 most popular drugs in the month.

Remember how bad flu season was last year? We do, too. In fact, only 37% of adults got their flu shot last year—the lowest vaccination rate in years—and many believe this led to the deadly 2017-2018 flu season. We can only hope that the substantial increase in flu vaccinations we saw in October signals an easier flu season this time around, but only time will tell.

If you’re still looking to get your flu shot, keep in mind that there are ways for you to save, or even get your shot for free. Read here to see how much a flu shot costs at your local pharmacy.

 

 

The 10 most popular drugs in October

Here were the 10 most popular drugs in October based on a representative sample of fills at US pharmacies. They reflect overall US prescriptions, not fills using GoodRx.

  1. Atorvastatin
  2. Levothyroxine
  3. Lisinopril
  4. Amlodipine
  5. Hydrocodone/acetaminophen
  6. Ibuprofen
  7. Omeprazole
  8. Ventolin
  9. Losartan
  10. Prednisone

 

The 10 most expensive drugs in October

These were the 10 most expensive outpatient drugs in October based on each drug’s list price for a typical one-month prescription.

  1. Actimmune – $53,321
  2. Daraprim – $45,000
  3. Cinryze – $44,140
  4. Chenodal – $42,750
  5. Myalept – $42,137
  6. H.P. Acthar – $38,892
  7. Juxtapid – $36,992
  8. Firazyr – $32,468
  9. Harvoni – $31,500
  10. Cuprimine – $31,426

 

Other news from October

 

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