Prices for Diabetes Medications Continue To Surge: GoodRx Monthly Report

diabetes meter next to insulin
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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Diabetes has become one of America’s most expensive diseases, costing the average patient almost $17,000 per year. A majority of that expense is due to the cost of diabetes medications – which are only getting more expensive. Recent data from the GoodRx Index reveals that diabetes medications continue to surge each month.

The monthly GoodRx Index report also showed these drug trends for April:

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.

Brand drugs are getting more expensive.

Brand name drugs are expensive – this we already know, but prices seem to only be increasing. In the past month, cash prices for the top 100 most filled brand-name drugs increased by 3%, and are up 17% since this past November. In April, the average cash price for a brand drug is $325 for a 30-day supply. Not cheap.

Some lucky people are shielded from paying the full cost of their brand drug, either because a generic available or the brand drug is covered by insurance. But this isn’t always the case as a large number of drugs are brand-only, and often aren’t covered by insurance, forcing people to pay the full cash price out of pocket.

Diabetes drugs are still getting more expensive.

This past February we reported that prices for diabetes drugs were up by 15% since February 2017, and this trend has continued. In just two months, from February to April, the average cash price for Diabetes drugs rose from $390 to $397 for a 30-day supply.

This is bad news for those with spotty insurance coverage. Diabetes drugs, and insulins, in particular, are often not covered by insurance, exposing many to the continually increasing prices.
Fills for allergy medications are still on the rise.

In March, fills for allergy medication cetirizine rose 25%, signaling the start of allergy season, and in April fills rose by another 8%. Fills for three other allergy drugs – fluticasone, montelukast, and loratadine – are all up by about 5%.

This year appears to be an abnormally bad year for allergies, and has been called ‘Pollengeddon.’ A recent GoodRx analysis revealed that overall fills for seasonal allergy medications are exceeding the last four years by 13%, with some geographic variation. Read here for more on that.

April’s big movers

Drug Prices constantly fluctuate, changing incrementally month over month. The big movers this month were lamotrigine, used to control seizures, and omeprazole used to treat ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease. From March to April, prices for lamotrigine increased by 10%, and currently costs an average of $154 for a 30-day supply. Omeprazole is also up by 10%, currently costing an average of $142 for a 30-day supply.

The most popular drugs in April 

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

Some other drug news from April

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