With all the news about high drug prices recently—which drugs are actually costing Americans the most money? What about the prescriptions that are being used the most? Take a look, and we’ll guide you through the highlights of the new GoodRx Top 10s, based on a sample of claims reported by pharmacies across the country.
Which drugs are the most expensive?
- Treatments for rare diseases make up a good portion of the list, particularly for hereditary angioedema (HAE). If you’ve been diagnosed with this rare genetic disorder, be prepared for high costs of treatment. Cinryze tops the list at $80,300 per month, and other HAE drugs aren’t much better—Firazyr comes in at an estimated $37,100 per month.
- Some good news: the very effective and very expensive hepatitis C meds are starting to decrease in cost very slightly. Harvoni shows the biggest drop, down from $82,000 to $61,000 per month (though the costs are higher for a full course of treatment). Almost all of the new treatments are still in the top 10 however, including Sovaldi and Viekira Pak.
- Other expensive to treat conditions include cystic fibrosis (newly approved Orkambi), familial hypercholesterolemia (Kynamro treats this form of inherited high cholesterol), and skin cancer (Targretin).
- See the full list for more.
Which drugs are most frequently prescribed?
- Pain medication hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin, Norco) tops the list this quarter. Between the available brands and generics, this combination of Tylenol and opioid hydrocodone is the most frequently filled prescription in the US. There has been plenty of controversy over how frequently narcotic pain medications are prescribed, with arguments both that it’s necessary and that there are other, non-narcotic alternatives that work just as well. For more information on alternatives, see Dr. O’s post on NSAIDs vs hydrocodone here.
- Thyroid meds like Synthroid and levothyroxine come in second, followed by prednisone, a steroid. These are both very common, inexpensive first-line treatments (the first option your doctor may try). Prednisone is also prescribed for many different conditions.
- Standard heart and diabetes prescriptions lisinopril (Zestril,Prinivil), atorvastatin (Lipitor), and metformin (Glucophage) are still very popular—no surprises there. These are also first-line treatments, with inexpensive generic options. They treat some of the most common conditions in the US: Diabetes affects almost 10% of Americans, and high cholesterol affects almost 13%.
- What else is on the list? Antibiotics like amoxicillin, anti-epileptic gabapentin (Neurontin), and mental health meds sertraline (Zoloft) and alprazolam (Xanax).
- Take a look at the full list to see what else folks are taking most frequently.