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:
- Prescription fills spiked for popular quadrivalent flu shots like Fluzone and Fluarix.
- Actimmune, once again, was the most expensive prescription medication in the United States.
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.
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.
- Actimmune – $53,321
- Daraprim – $45,000
- Cinryze – $44,140
- Chenodal – $42,750
- Myalept – $42,137
- H.P. Acthar – $38,892
- Juxtapid – $36,992
- Firazyr – $32,468
- Harvoni – $31,500
- Cuprimine – $31,426
Other news from October
- Two of the biggest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), Express Scripts and Caremark, announced that they will be dropping over 90 drugs from formularies next year.
- GoodRx data revealed the states that fill the most prescriptions for erectile dysfunction drugs. Hint: It’s not what you might assume.
- Dr. Sharon chimes in on the best new drugs of 2018.
- Popular blood thinner Xarelto was approved to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events like heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death in patients with existing coronary and/or peripheral artery disease.
- 35,000 tubes of nystatin/triamcinolone were recalled after they failed a routine efficacy test.
- Cialis went generic, and prices for the generic, tadalafil, are 50% cheaper than the brand.
- The FDA approved Arikayce to treat a rare condition called MAC lung disease.
- GoodRx data revealed that fills for Truvada, used as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to prevent HIV, dropped by 30% since 2015. Here’s why.
We've sent a link to download the GoodRx mobile app to your phone.
We were unable to send a link to your phone.