Most people who are unhappy with the price of their medication are not aware of drug prices in the truly high-end segment of the market.
GoodRx, the prescription drug watchdog, provided Biospacewith a list of ten of the highest-priced drugs currently available. Most drugs that made the list must be administered in the hospital, but some of the top ten drugs may be purchased at the local pharmacy.
When GoodRx compiled the list, it rated the drugs according to the annual cost of therapy. Prices for this analysis were established according to the list price. Yet the consumer usually does not pay the list price either at their drugstore or through a consumer advocacy program.
But even at reduced prices drugs at the top of the list are extremely expensive.
Zolgensma by Novartis
The highest price drug on the list is Zolgensma at $2.125 million. This gene therapy was developed to treat spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and requires only one treatment.
Spinal muscular atrophy mostly affects babies and children causing a breakdown of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. When compared to Zolgensma, the ten-year cost of the average SMA drug is over four million dollars.
Other High-Cost Drugs
Spinraza was approved several years ago to treat SMA at an initial cost of $750,000. From the second year and throughout the patient’s life Spinraza will cost approximately $375,000 per year.
Several drugs have been removed from the top ten list and replaced with higher-cost drugs such as Zokivny by Eiger Biopharmaceuticals. Zokivny’s FDA approval has been hailed as a historic milestone. It is the only drug available to treat Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS) and Progeroid Laminopathies (PL). Both HGPS and PL are extremely rare genetic diseases affecting children. The drugs are dissimilar and but both cause premature aging and death. Treatment with Zokivny will cost $1,032,480.
Danyelza was recently added to the top ten list. The drug treats pediatric patients who have high-risk neuroblastoma of the bone or bone marrow that has either relapsed or their disease is resistant to treatment. Treatment with Danyelza costs $977,664 annually.
Three drugs were pulled from the list. Actimmune ($575,540), Lumizyme ($630,630), Lumizyme ($630,630) were replaced with more expensive drugs.
According to data from GoodRx, this year over 600 drugs have had price increases. In January 2021 alone, 589 drugs have seen an increase. This is a price increase of 4.2 percent. A total of 582 drugs are name brands with an additional seven drugs classified as generic.