Brand drugs are expensive — this we already know, and prices seem to only be increasing. Of the 100 most-prescribed brand-name medications, those for diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease tend to be the most expensive. All of the drugs on this list are brand-only medications, meaning that there are no affordable generic alternatives available.
Additionally, it can be difficult for people to receive adequate insurance coverage for many of these drugs as they may be placed in more expensive, higher-tier formularies or have some other coverage restrictions.
For this report, GoodRx analyzed cash prices for the top 100 brand-name drugs based on a representative sample of US prescription fills (not GoodRx fills). Reported prices are based on the cash price at the pharmacy — the so-called “usual and customary” price. (They don’t include insurance co-payments or co-insurance payments.)
Here are the top 10 most expensive popular brand-name drugs in the US:
Enbrel, used to treat Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis, tops the expensive brands list with cash prices averaging around $7,898 per month. Over the past five years, prices for Enbrel have increased by an average of 18% annually, and there’s no decline in sight.
So, how can you save? Manufacturer Amgen offers the Enbrel support card, which can reduce co-pays to as little as $10 per month, and the Amgen Safety Net Foundation program, which can make Enbrel free to patients who qualify. Read our Enbrel savings tips here for more information.
Humira is a medication used to treat Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and it’s expensive — cash prices for a 30-day supply average $7,719 per month. And just like Enbrel, over the past five years, cash prices for Humira have increased by an average of 18% annually, and certain insurance coverage restrictions may apply.
To add insult to injury, Humira is often placed in higher-tier insurance formularies with higher co-pays, and many plans have a prior authorization requirement and/or quantity limit for Humira. You can read more about these terms here, but in sum, they may limit access to insurance coverage for some patients.
Here are some ways to save on Humira. First off, manufacturer AbbVie offers both the Humira Co-Pay Savings Card, which can reduce out-of-pocket costs to as little as $5 per month, and the AbbVie Patient Assistance Foundation program, which can make Humira free for patients who quality. Check our Humira savings tips page for more information on these programs. Additionally, two Humira biosimilars, Cyzelto and Amjevita, have been approved recently that should be cheaper, so stay tuned for when they hit the market.
Genvoya is an HIV drug that combines four different medications in one little pill, rather than forcing patients to adhere to a multi-pill regimen. But, not surprisingly, it is very expensive — a 30-day supply costs an average of $3,466. On many insurance formularies, Genvoya is a Tier 2 drug, which means that co-pays can be manageable for most. However, some plans have restrictions (like prior authorizations or quantity limits), while patients with no coverage may need to pay the full cash price.
So, since Genvoya works so well, how can you save? Manufacturer Gilead offers both the Gilead Co-pay Coupon Card, which can help insured patients save up to $6000 per year, and a patient assistance program, which can help patients get Genvoya for free.
Truvada, also known as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), is a revolutionary drug for preventing HIV in uninfected high-risk individuals. Studies have shown that PrEP is 90-96% effective, but only if taken at least four times per week. Truvada is a Tier 2 drug on many insurance formularies, but it is expensive — a month’s supply costs $1,978.
How can you save on Truvada if you’re hit with a large out-of-pocket cost? Manufacturer Gilead offers a co-pay card that can reduce out-of-pocket costs by as much as $3,600 per year. Additionally, multiple patient assistance programs are available to help uninsured, low-income individuals. Read more about these programs on our Truvada savings tips page here.
Victoza is a medication to control blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes and has an average cash price of $974 for a one-month supply. Victoza is often a second-line therapy when metformin isn’t enough, so many insurers require patients to prove that metformin doesn’t work before providing coverage for Victoza. This can be an arduous process, and it doesn’t always result in full coverage.
To help patients save, Novo Nordisk offers a savings card, which reduces out of pocket costs to as little as $25 per prescription, and a patient assistance program, which helps uninsured patients get Victoza for free. You may also want to ask your doctor about alternative diabetes injections, like Trulicity or Bydureon, that could be more affordable depending on your insurance.
Trulicity is a once-weekly injection to treat type 2 diabetes. Cash prices for a 30-day supply now average $826 as a result of 10% annual price increases over the past five years. On insurance formularies, Trulicity is typically a higher-tier drug, which usually translates to higher co-pays.
Here’s how to save. Manufacturer Eli Lilly offers the Trulicity Savings Card to help commercially insured patients save as much as $150 per month on their prescription, and the Lilly TruAssist patient assistance program to help uninsured patients get Trulicity for free.
Novolog is an expensive fast-acting insulin for treating diabetes types 1 and 2. Over the past five years, Novolog’s cash price increased 11% annually to today’s price of $633 per month. Just like many of the brand drugs on this list, Novolog is covered, but with potential insurance restrictions that can drive up your out-of-pocket costs.
Manufacturer Novo Nordisk has two programs to help patients save. The Novo Nordisk Instant Savings Card can reduce monthly out-of-pocket costs to as little as $25, while the Novo Nordisk Patient Assistance Program can help uninsured patients get NovoLog for free. Additionally, if your insurance doesn’t cover NovoLog, check if Lantus or Humalog are covered. Both are good alternatives that may be more affordable depending on your insurance plan.
Restasis is used to increase tear production in patients with dry eyes, but these eye drops are expensive — one package of 30 0.4 mL vials costs $588, and almost half of all insurance plans require a prior authorization before you can get coverage.
So how can you save? There are plenty of other options out there to treat dry eyes, so talk to your doctor about more affordable alternatives. For instance, Artificial Tears is very similar medication to Restasis and is available over the counter for around $10 for a 15 mL bottle.
Advair is one of the most commonly prescribed inhalers for asthma and COPD, and is a combination of two main active ingredients: a beta-agonist (salmeterol) and a corticosteroid (fluticasone). These medicines work by decreasing inflammation in the lungs and relaxing the airways to facilitate easier breathing. Advair is expensive though — one inhaler can cost $588 and a cost-saving generic is still many years out.
So how can you save now? First, a manufacturer discount may be able to reduce your out-of-pocket costs to as little as $10 per inhaler. Or you can try a GoodRx coupon to save as much as 10-15% off Advair’s cash price. If it’s still too expensive for you, ask your doctor about alternatives to Advair that might work for you. Read more about these alternatives and other ways to save, here.
Approved in 2014, Invokana is a diabetes medication used in conjunction with metformin to control blood sugar, but it is expensive — cash prices for a one-month supply average $532. On insurance formularies, Invokana is typically a Tier 2 drug, but patients are often required to prove that no other diabetes treatments work as well as Invokana before they can get coverage.
For patients looking to save, manufacturers Janssen and Johnson & Johnson offer the CarePath Savings program, which can reduce out-of-pocket costs to as little as $0 per fill, and a patient assistance program, which helps uninsured patients get Invokana for free.
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The above analysis is Part 2 in our two-part series on expensive but widely used medications. In Part 1, we look at the most expensive popular generic medications in the US:
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