Why is Myrbetriq so expensive?
Myrbetriq (mirabegron) is commonly used to treat overactive bladder in adults. It relaxes the muscles in the bladder to help decrease problems with urination. Myrbetriq is an expensive prescription drug with no generic alternative currently available.
There are several reasons why Myrbetriq is so expensive including patent laws that prohibit the sale of a generic alternative and unregulated pricing.
What is Myrbetriq (mirabegron)?
Myrbetriq is an expensive prescription drug, manufactured by Astellas, that is FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved to treat overactive bladder symptoms of urgency, frequency, and leakage in adults. It is also approved for pediatric neurogenic detrusor overactivity (NDO) in children which is a type of bladder condition that is commonly caused by certain neurologic medical conditions.
Mirabegron is an adrenergic beta-3 receptor agonist that works by relaxing the bladder muscles to help decrease problems with urination.
Myrbetriq tablets are taken orally once daily with or without food, while the extended-release tablets are taken orally once daily with food.
Common side effects of Myrbetriq include high blood pressure, pain or swelling of the nose or throat (nasopharyngitis), urinary tract infection, dry mouth, dry eyes, constipation, and headache.
Before starting to take Myrbetriq, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions including if you have liver or kidney problems, and any other prescription, over-the-counter, or supplements you are taking.
How much does Myrbetriq cost?
Myrbetriq costs will vary depending on your insurance plan’s coverage for this medication.
Once you and your plan spend the minimum required amount combined on drugs (including the deductible), you’ll pay no more than 25% of the cost for Myrbetriq, if this medication is covered under your health insurance company’s drug formulary.
For people without insurance who need to pay the cash price, Myrbetriq costs around $462 for a 30-day supply (30 tablets).
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No generic alternative to Myrbetriq is available
Myrbetriq is a brand-name prescription drug and there is no generic alternative currently available.
A generic drug is an FDA-approved medication that contains the same active ingredients as the brand-name drug and is therapeutically equivalent. Generic drugs are typically much less expensive than brand-name drugs.
The earliest date that a generic for Myrbetriq could become available is 2025 when Mirabegron’s patents expire.
When a brand-name prescription medication is approved by the FDA, the pharmaceutical company that developed the drug is given patent protection. The patent protects the company’s investment in developing the drug by giving them exclusive rights to sell the drug for a certain number of years to recoup their research and development costs. The patent will generally last for around 20 years. After the patents expire, other companies can start selling generic versions of the drugs at lower prices.
In some cases, the pharmaceutical company will receive an extension on their patent protection period by reformulating a drug, for example, by simplifying the dosing or how the drug is administered. Extended-release versions of medications are one of the common ways pharmaceutical companies reformulate products. New methods of administering drugs may also mean taking a drug that was previously only available by nasal spray and creating an injectable version. Another example is dissolvable tablets that don’t need to be taken with water, which can also help the pharmaceutical manufacturer to extend patent protection as well. When a new use for a drug is discovered, the pharmaceutical company can be granted an additional three years of patent protection under FDA rules. The Orphan Drug Act also gives pharmaceutical companies an additional seven years of patent protection for drugs that are developed for rare diseases that affect 200,000 or fewer people in the United States.
After the patent expires, other companies are allowed to manufacture and sell generic alternatives. However, because Myrbetriq is a new drug, the patent has not yet expired. This means that there are no generic alternatives currently available on the market and therefore, no price competition for this drug. Unfortunately, people who are prescribed this expensive medication will need to pay the higher brand name price until a generic drug is approved for sale.
Myrbetriq’s patents are set to expire in 2025, so there will likely be a generic version available at that time.
Unlike most other developed countries, prescription drug pricing is not regulated by the government in the United States. This means that drug companies can charge whatever they want for their products. This often leads to high prices for brand-name drugs like Myrbetriq.
NiceRx has performed a study on global drug pricing and there is conclusive data showing that Americans pay the highest prices in the world for brand-name medications.
With an estimated cost of around $462 for a supply of 30 tablets of Myrbetriq, people who suffer from overactive bladder will need to pay this higher price until a generic alternative becomes available for this medication.
No alternative medications for overactive bladder
In addition to the fact that there are no generic alternatives to Myrbetriq available yet, there is currently only one other similar drug which is approved for the treatment of overactive bladder. Gemtesa (vibegron) has a similar retail price to Myrbetriq so unfortunately, it is not a cost-saving alternative.
However, there is another classification of drugs called antimuscarinics (or anticholinergic) which are also prescribed to help treat overactive bladder (OAB) and urinary incontinence. These medications also relax the bladder muscles and are much less expensive. Examples of antimuscarinic medications include:
- Vesicare (solifenacin)
- Ditropan XL (oxybutynin ER)
- Detrol (tolterodine)
- Detrol LA (tolterodine ER)
- Toviaz (fesoterodine).
What options are available to save on Myrbetriq?
The high cost of Myrbetriq can be a barrier for some people who need this medication. There are a few options available to save money:
- Myrbetriq Momentum Savings Card – the manufacturer of Myrbetriq, Astellas, offers a savings card to eligible individuals. If you are eligible, you can get your first prescription for free and save up to $70 per month for up to a full year. Check with the manufacturer for terms and conditions to determine if you are eligible as this offer may change.
- Patient assistance program – find out if you are eligible for enrollment into a patient assistance program for Myrbetriq.
- Ask your healthcare professional for free samples – Astellas provides healthcare providers with free samples to give to their patients to help people get started on the medication.
- Get medical advice from your prescribing healthcare provider and find out if an antimuscarinic medication can help with your overactive bladder – overactive bladder (OAB) and urinary incontinence are traditionally treated with another classification of drugs called antimuscarinics (or anticholinergic) which are much more affordable.
- Shop around for the best possible price – if you do not have insurance coverage or your copay for this medication is too high, shop around at different local pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies to try to find the best possible price. Drug prices vary by pharmacy. Some Medicare plans may help to cover the cost of this medication from mail-order pharmacies.
- Myrbetriq coupons – you may be able to find a Myrbetriq coupon to help you save on this medication.
- Consider getting help from Medicaid – most state Medicaid plans will cover Myrbetriq with a very low (or $0) copay. These state Medicaid programs will generally have strict income requirements.
A medical professional has reviewed this article.