Top 10 costliest specialty drugs for insurers

A recent study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill revealed specialty drug costs for payers have tripled since 2003, when they represented 11 percent of payer drug spending.

Here are the top 10 costliest specialty drugs in 2014:

Name, use, average 30-day supply cost

1. Sovaldi, pill to treat hepatitis C, $28,083*

2. Stelara, injection to treat psoriasis, $11,131

3. Gleevec, pill to treat leukemia and other cancers, $10,893

4. Gilenya, pill to treat multiple sclerosis, $6,743

5. Copaxone, injection to treat multiple sclerosis, $6,623

6. Tecfidera, pill to treat multiple sclerosis, $6,407

7. Humira, injection to treat rheumatoid arthritis, $3,890

8. Enbrel, injection to treat rheumatoid arthritis, $3,674

9. Atripla, pill to treat HIV, $2,853

10. Abilify, pill to treat psychiatric disorders, $1,011

Researchers used the Truven Health MarketScan Commercial Database to analyze prescriptions purchased by commercially insured patients, and defined specialty drugs using CMS's threshold, which designates a product costing $600 or more for a 30-day supply as a specialty drug. 

*Sovaldi is usually taken only for 12 weeks with at least one other medicine. Other listed drugs are typically taken for years until they become ineffective or the patient switches treatment.


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