Why is Linzess so expensive?
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Linzess is an expensive prescription medication used once daily to help you have more frequent and complete bowel movements, and it also helps relieve belly pain and overall abdominal symptoms.
Americans pay more for prescription drugs than other developed nations. There are a number of reasons why Linzess may be more expensive than other medications. Linzess is a brand-name drug and there are generic alternatives available for this medication.
Learn more about why Linzess is so expensive and what options are available for you to save on this medication.
What is Linzess (linaclotide)?
Linzess is an FDA-approved prescription medication used as a treatment for adults with Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation (IBS-C) or Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC). It’s manufactured by AbbVie and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals.
Linzess is a brand-name drug that contains the active ingredient linaclotide. It is classified as a guanylate cyclase-C agonists drug. It isn’t a laxative. This medication is a once-daily pill that helps to proactively manage symptoms of IBS-C and CIC, including belly pain and abdominal symptoms (including abdominal pain, bloating and discomfort) that are associated with IBS-C. Linzess capsule is available in the strengths 72 mcg, 145 mcg, and 290 mcg.
This medication acts locally in the intestine and works in two ways, by calming pain-sensing nerves, and accelerating bowel movements.
Linzess side effects
The most common side effects of Linzess are:
- stomach-area (abdominal) pain
- the feeling of fullness or pressure in your abdomen
Linzess can also cause serious side effects, including diarrhea, which often begins within the first 2 weeks of treatment. You should immediately stop taking this medication and call your healthcare provider right away if you get severe diarrhea while taking this medication.
If you experience any side effects or possible signs of an allergic reaction while taking this medication, speak with your healthcare professional right away. You are also encouraged to report negative side effects to the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). You should also let your healthcare provider know about all of the other medications, over-the-counter products, and supplements you are taking.
How much does Linzess cost?
According to the manufacturer, the estimated out-of-pocket cost for Linzess without insurance is $490.63 per month (around works $123 per week), which may vary depending on the dosage prescribed by your healthcare provider. This is the average retail price estimated by the manufacturer.
Linzess price can vary depending on your health insurance coverage for this medication. Contact your insurance company or pharmacist to determine if your health insurance plan covers Linzess in its drug formulary as well as the deductibles and copays for this medication.
Each health insurance plan sets its own formulary that specifies which medications are covered. Some health insurance plans may place Linzess on a higher tier that may result in a higher coinsurance or copayment.
According to the manufacturer, depending on your insurance coverage, eligible individuals may pay as little as $30 for a 30-day or 90-day supply when using the Linzess savings card. Around 85% of prescriptions have an out-of-pocket cost ranging from $0-$35 per month. This offer is not valid for those who are paying cash out-of-pocket, and those who are enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, or any other federal or state healthcare programs.
Medicare Part D enrollees who qualify for the Extra Help program pay between $0-$8 per month. Around 80% of people who don’t qualify for Extra Help should expect to pay in the range of $0-$50 per month for their Linzess prescription.
For Medicaid enrollees, around 90% of prescriptions for Linzess have an estimated out-of-pocket cost between $0-$4 per month.
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Why is Linzess so expensive?
There are a few reasons why Linzess is so expensive in the United States:
The generic version of Linzess is not yet available
A generic version of Linzess is not yet available. The earliest possible date a generic version could become available is from 2026, which is when the patents expire. There is a possibility that the patents will be extended subject to possible pediatric extension, which will delay the launch of the first generic alternative of this medication. Until the Linzess patents expire, there will be no generic drug alternatives available for this medication.
Generic drugs typically cost much less money than their brand-name counterparts. The FDA has a rigorous registration process for all pharmaceuticals including generic drugs, that requires them to be “bioequivalent” to the brand-name product, which means that they have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, and route of administration.
RELATED: Brand vs generic drugs
Patent law protection
When a new drug is registered for the first time, the pharmaceutical company that discovered the drug is given a patent. This patent protects the company’s investment in the drug by giving them the sole rights to manufacture and sell the drug for a certain number of years.
In the United States, patents for drugs are typically 20 years from the date of filing the application. However, there are a few ways that a drug company can extend its patent protection and delay generic manufacturers from entering the market with lower-cost generic alternatives. One way is through the FDA’s “pediatric extension program.” This program allows drug companies to extend the exclusivity period of their patents by an additional six months if they conduct studies on the safety and efficacy of their drugs in children.
Another way that a company can extend its patent protection is through the “new use” or “new formulation” of its drug. This means that even though the original patent for the drug has expired, the company may still have some form of exclusivity on a new use or formulation of their drug.
This can make it difficult for generic companies to develop and market their own version of the drug, because they may not be able to get FDA approval for their generic version until after the exclusivity period has ended.
Unregulated pharmaceutical prices in the United States
In the United States, there is no regulation of drug prices. This means that pharmaceutical companies can charge whatever price they want for their drugs.
Other countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, have government-run healthcare systems that negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to get the best price for their drugs. In contrast, in the United States, each insurance company negotiates its own price with drug companies.
A study by RAND concluded that prescription drug prices in the United States are on average 2.56 times higher than in other OECD countries.
How do I save on Linzess?
Linzess is an expensive prescription drug, especially for people who do not have sufficient insurance coverage for this medication. There are a few options that could possibly help you save money on your Linzess prescription:
- Linzess Savings Card – the manufacturer offers a savings card to help eligible individuals pay as little as $30 for a 30-day or 90-day supply when using the Linzess savings card (offer not valid for those who are paying cash out-of-pocket, and those who are enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, or any other federal or state healthcare programs). Make sure to review the latest terms and conditions on the manufacturer’s website to find the latest eligibility requirements.
- Patient assistance programs – find out if you may be eligible for enrollment into the Linzess patient assistance program.
- Ask your prescribing doctor for free samples of Linzess – many pharmaceutical companies give free samples to healthcare providers to help their patients get started on the medication.
- Get medical advice from your healthcare professional and find out if there are any lower-cost alternative medications – ask your prescribing doctor if there are any less expensive alternatives to Linzess such as Amitiza (lubiprostone) or its generic alternative.
- Shop around for the lowest price at multiple mail-order pharmacies – medication prices vary by pharmacy so it is recommended to always check pricing at multiple pharmacies to find a lower price for your medicine, as your local pharmacy may not be the cheapest option.
- Get a 90-day supply – it may be cheaper to purchase a 90-day supply of this medication at a time as there may be volume discounts available at your pharmacy.
- Linzess coupons – find out if there is a Linzess manufacturer coupon or discount card available that could help you save money on this medication.
- Get help from Medicaid – find out if you are eligible for a state Medicaid plan that covers the cost of Linzess.
A medical professional has reviewed this article.