A new study from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill examining usage of and spending for specialty prescription drugs by commercial insurance plans finds huge spikes from 2003 through 2014. During that stretch, drugmakers launched more and more high-priced drugs, many of them big scientific advances, and raised their prices for existing drugs at least once a year.
Here's a look at eight drugs with the highest monthly cost to commercial insurance plans in 2014. It's based on an analysis of plans' reimbursements for prescription claims, from the MarketScan database maintained by consulting firm Truven Health.
Drug, use, price for a 30-day supply:
— Sovaldi, pill for hepatitis C, $28,083 (asterisk)
— Stelara, injection for psoriasis, $11,131
— Gleevec, pill for leukemia and other cancers, $10,893
— Gylenya, pill for multiple sclerosis, $6,743
— Copaxone, injection for multiple sclerosis, $6,623
— Tecfidera, pill for multiple sclerosis, $6,407
— Humira, injection for rheumatoid arthritis, $3,890
— Enbrel, injection for rheumatoid arthritis, $3,674
(asterisk)Sovaldi is generally taken only for 12 weeks, but with at least one other medicine. Other listed drugs are usually taken for years, until they no longer help or the patient is switched to another treatment.
Sources: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Health Affairs journal.