The Most Expensive Drugs in 2020
Drug pricing remains a hot topic and rightly so, as the most expensive drugs keep getting more expensive. Discover the most expensive drugs in 2020 here.
The year 2020 is shaping up to be the year of healthcare.
With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, the world’s attention is focused on drug development and innovation. We can expect a number of changes in the pharmaceutical industry in the coming months, but it’s a safe bet to assume that there will continue to be a slew of extremely expensive drugs.
So it’s a good time to take a look at the most expensive drugs in the US in 2020. Many of the costliest medications are the same as those in 2019, with one important change—prices have increased even further.
The Top 20 Most Expensive Drugs in 2020
Myalept remains the most expensive medication, with a list price north of $70,000—a 9.9% price hike from last year. Regardless of list price, many drugs can be acquired at discounted prices from providers, like this online pharmacy.
Here’s a look at the total roundup of costliest drugs, based on GoodRx’s list:
- Myalept ($71,306)
Myalept is designed to treat a very rare disease: generalized lipodystrophy, a condition in which fat is abnormally distributed throughout the body. Myalept is used to treat leptin deficiency in these patients, and is the only drug that can treat this extremely rare condition.
- Ravicti ($55,341)
The second most expensive drug on the list, Ravicti is designed to treat urea cycle disorders, which cause excessive ammonia levels in the bloodstream. The list price for Ravicti has increased by 4% from last year, to $5,031 per bottle.
- Mavenclad ($53,730)
This is a recently developed drug, having been approved in March 2019. Mavenclad is for the treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis, and involves two courses of treatment that are administered one year apart.
Mavenclad is certainly one of the most expensive prescription drugs, with its staggering list price of $53,730.
- Actimmune ($52,777)
Actimmune has experienced a list price increase of 4.8% since last year. It is manufactured to treat osteoporosis, as well as Chronic Granulomatous Disease (CGD)—an inherited form of primary immunodeficiency disease.
Actimmune is administered in single-use vials, three times a week, with a list price of $4,797.92 per vial.
- Oxervate ($48,498)
Oxervate is another recently approved drug. Like many of the pharmaceuticals on this list, it is for the treatment of a very specialized disorder.
In this case, Oxervate is the first drug approved to treat neurotrophic keratitis, a degenerative condition affecting sensation in the cornea.
- Takhzyro ($45,464)
This is a drug used to combat hereditary angioedema, a very rare disorder characterized by “attacks” of severe swelling in the skin and mucous membranes.
Approved in 2018, Takhzyro is taken in doses of two vials per month, with a cost of $22,732 per vial.
- Daraprim ($45,000)
Daraprim is designed to treat toxoplasmosis, and prevent infection in transplant recipients. It received a great deal of national attention some years ago when Martin Shkreli, founder of Turing Pharmaceuticals, hiked the drug’s price from $13.50 to $750 per pill.
That didn’t turn out well for him, but Daraprim remains one of the most expensive drugs on the market. A one-month supply will set you back $45,000.
- Juxtapid ($44,714)
Juxtapid is intended to treat the rare gene mutation called homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, which can result in cardiovascular disease.
Juxtapid has seen a price hike since last year of 9.9%, with each capsule having a list price of $1,596.91.
- Cinryze ($44,141)
Like Takhzyro, Cinryze is for the treatment of hereditary angioedema.
A one-month supply (16 vials) of this drug goes for $44,121. However, insured patients can expect to pay as little as…well, nothing at all, by using the OnePath Co-Pay Assistance Program by the drug’s manufacturer Shire.
- Chenodal ($42,570)
Chenodal is used to dissolve gallstones, and it can go for a whopping $473 per pill.
Honestly, at that price, it might be less painful to just pass the gallstone.
- Gattex ($40,450)
Gattex was approved just last year to treat short bowel syndrome in young children. Short bowel syndrome, as the name indicates, is a lack of sufficient intestinal tract, resulting in less nutritional absorption.
There’s nothing short about Gattex’s price, however. A single-use vial costs $1,348, and patients are usually required to go through thirty of these vials per month.
- H. P. Acthar ($39, 864)
Also known as Acthar, and manufactured by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, this drug is designed to treat a wide variety of conditions. Among these are: lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.
It’s also one of the more expensive medications on the market, with a one-month supply (one vial) costing nearly $40,000.
- Tegsedi ($34,600)
Tegsedi is self-administered through syringes, with usually four syringes used per month during a course of treatment. Each syringe costs $8,650.
Tegsedi is used to combat nerve damage resulting from hereditary amyloid transthyretin (ATTR) amyloidosis, in which proteins misfold and aggregate in heart and nervous tissues.
- Vitrakvi ($32,800)
Vitrakvi is an anti-cancer drug with a list price of $547 per capsule. Since the treatment usually involves taking sixty capsules per month, this can mean over $1,000 a day throughout the course of the treatment.
Fortunately, insured patients can get the drug for literally nothing with co-pay programs.
- Ayvakit ($32,000)
Ayvakit is a drug for the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors, a rare cancer that affects the gastrointestinal tract. It was just approved in January of this year, making it the newest addition on the list.
Ayvakit goes for $1,067 per pill, with a treatment course of thirty pills a month.
- Kynamro ($30,444)
Like Juxtapid, Kynamro is for the treatment of homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia. Kynamro is administered through hypodermic injections of four single-use syringes per month, with each syringe costing $7,611.
- Sovaldi ($28,000)
Sovaldi is a hepatitis C medication, which are among the most expensive prescription drugs. Sovaldi exemplifies this, with a single tablet setting you back $1,000.
- Viekira Pak ($27,773)
Another hepatitis C medication, Viekira Pak treats the most common hep C strain, called hepatitis C genotype 1. Recent hepatitis drugs, however, have overtaken Viekira Pak in popularity, requiring fewer pills and treating all hep C strains.
- Viekira XR ($27,773)
This is just an extended-release version of Viekira Pak, in which patients take three tablets per day.
- Tibsovo ($27,421)
Approved as recently as 2018, Tibsovo is the first treatment approved for acute myeloid leukemia patients with IDH1 mutations. It is an “orphan” drug, which means that—like many of the drugs on this list—it is meant for a single rare disease or disorder.
At over $27,000 for a one-month supply, it is certainly one of the most expensive drugs in the US.
The Future of Drug Innovation
The reason these are such excessively expensive drugs is because of the nature of what they are designed to do. They are meant to treat very rare diseases and disorders, and so it is difficult to spread out the costs and lower the price.
The encouraging thing is that these medications, even as pricey as they are, indicate that pharmaceutical innovation is capable of treating even the most obscure ailments. And this bodes well for the future of drug development and disease treatment.