Why is Trintellix so expensive?

Trintellix is a brand-name prescription medication used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD). The drug is classified as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which works by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain.

Trintellix is one of the most expensive antidepressant medications on the market, with a retail price of around $444 for a 30-day supply, according to the manufacturer. The high cost is likely due to a lack of generic alternatives for this medication.

Learn more about why Trintellix is so expensive and what you can do to save money on this medication.

What is Trintellix (vortioxetine)?

Trintellix is an FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved brand-name medication used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD), which is also known as clinical depression. Depression is a serious mental health condition. Trintellix was formally known as  Brintellix, which was discontinued by the manufacturer.

Trintellix contains the active ingredient vortioxetine and belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs work by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which can help improve mood and relieve symptoms of depression.

Trintellix was approved by the FDA in 2013 and is manufactured by Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Lundbeck. It is available in tablet form and is taken orally once daily, with or without food.

Trintellix and other antidepressants may increase suicidal thoughts and actions in young adults 24 years of age and younger, especially within the first few months of treatment or when the dose of the medication is changed. Depression and other mental illnesses are generally the most important causes of suicidal thoughts or actions. This medication is not for use in children under 18.

Trintellix is not known to cause any changes in weight such as weight loss or weight gain.

Trintellix side effects

Like most medications, Trintellix can cause side effects. The most common side effects of Trintellix include nausea, constipation, and vomiting.

While most people tolerate Trintellix well, it can cause serious side effects in some people including serotonin syndrome, increased risk of bleeding, trouble sleeping, manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder, discontinuation syndrome, eye problems, low levels of salt (low sodium levels) in your blood, and sexual side effects such as decreased libido or erectile dysfunction.

MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) interact with Trintellix and cannot be taken with this medication. Do not start using Trintellix if you have stopped taking an MAOI in the last 14 days. Taking Trintellix with MAOIs can lead to dangerous side effects, including very high blood pressure, severe headache, chest pain, and increased body temperature.

Trintellix and Prozac (fluoxetine) are similar medications and belong to the same class of drugs (SSRIs). These medications can also increase the risk of glaucoma, or abnormally low blood pressure in the eye. Glaucoma can lead to optic nerve damage and blindness if not promptly treated.

Talk to your doctor about whether you should take Trintellix if you are breastfeeding. Trintellix can pass into your breast milk and may harm your baby.

Trintellix should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking Trintellix, tell your doctor immediately.

To avoid drug interactions with Trintellix, talk to your healthcare professional about all of your medical conditions and any other prescription medications (including migraine medicines called triptans, tricyclic antidepressants, and opioids such as fentanyl and tramadol), over-the-counter, or supplements you are taking. If you experience any side effects or possible signs of an allergic reaction, speak with your healthcare provider right away.

RELATED: Trintellix side effects and how to avoid them

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How much does Trintellix cost?

The cost of Trintellix will depend on your health insurance plan and the coverage for this drug including the copay and deductible.

According to the manufacturer’s website, commercially insured patients may pay as little as $10 for a 30-day or 90-day supply of their Trintellix prescriptions. Average monthly out-of-pocket costs for Medicare patients are estimated at $40.19 and the average monthly out-of-pocket costs for Medicaid patients are $1.05.

For people without prescription drug insurance who need to pay the list price out-of-pocket, the estimated price for a 30-day supply of Trintellix is $444.14, according to the manufacturer.

Generic Trintellix is not yet available

Trintellix is a brand-name medication and there are currently no generic Trintellix alternatives available. Generic medications are generally a lot cheaper than their brand-name counterpart drugs.

The patents for Trintellix expire on June 2027 which is the earliest date when a generic alternative will become available.

The FDA requires generic drugs to be as safe and effective as their brand-name counterparts. Generics must also meet other FDA requirements including being manufactured under strict quality control standards and being bioequivalent to the brand-name drug which means they have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, route of administration, and indications for use.

As multiple generic pharmaceutical companies will likely sell the generic version of the drug after the patent expires, the increased competition will likely result in a significant reduction in the price, providing for more affordable access to the medication.

RELATED: Brand vs generic drugs

Patent laws

When a pharmaceutical company receives the first FDA approval for a drug, it is given a 20-year patent. During this time, the pharmaceutical company has the exclusive right to sell the drug that allows them time to recoup their research & development investment that was required to discover the drug and bring it to market. After the patent expires, other companies are allowed to sell generic versions of the drug. Generic drugs must be approved by the FDA and are usually much cheaper than their brand-name counterparts.

For drugs that are used to treat rare diseases that affect 200,000 or fewer people in the United States, the Orphan Drug Act extends the patent protection for pharmaceutical companies by an additional seven years.

The patents for Trintellix will expire on June 2027, which is the earliest date a generic pharmaceutical company will be able to apply for FDA authorization to sell a generic version of Trintellix.

Unregulated pricing for pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceutical pricing isn’t regulated in the United States which means that pharmaceutical companies are able to set pricing at their discretion without any regulation. In many cases, the same medication will sell for a significantly lower price in other developed countries that regulate drug prices.

A report by RAND reports that prescription drug prices in the United States are on average 2.56 times higher than in other OECD countries. Another report by AARP found that the annual increases in the price of prescription drugs in the United States are outpacing the rate of inflation.

With an estimated price of $444.14 for a 30-day supply of Trintellix, uninsured individuals who suffer from major depressive disorder will be paying a high price for this prescription drug until the generic version is approved.

How do I save on Trintellix?

The expensive price of Trintellix can make treatment unaffordable for many people who suffer from major depressive disorder. Fortunately, there are several options to help you save money:

  1. Trintellix Savings Card – Takeda provides a savings card to people who meet the eligibility requirements. You can pay as little as $10 for a 30-day or 90-day supply of Trintellix. The maximum savings are $100 for a 30-day supply or $300 for a 90-day supply. Make sure to check the terms and conditions on the Takeda website to determine if you are eligible as this offer may change.
  2. Patient assistance program – you might be eligible for enrollment into a patient assistance program for Trintellix.
  3. Ask your healthcare provider if they can provide free Trintellix samples – The manufacturer may also provide your healthcare provider with free Trintellix samples that are intended for people that need help getting started on the medication.
  4. Get medical advice from your healthcare provider and find out if there are any alternative medications that are right for you – find out from your prescribing doctor if there is a Trintellix alternative that may work for you, such as Prozac (fluoxetine), Wellbutrin SR (bupropion), Wellbutrin XL (bupropion), Lexapro (escitalopram), Viibryd (vilazodone), or Cymbalta (duloxetine).
  5. Shop around at mail-order pharmacies – prescription drug prices vary by pharmacy so it’s recommended to shop around for the best possible price when purchasing this medication.
  6. Trintellix coupons – you may be able to find a Trintellix manufacturer coupon that can help you save more money.
  7. Help from Medicaid – find out if there is a state Medicaid plan available that may help cover the cost of your Trintellix prescription.

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Sources (7)

  1. Trintellix official website - Trintellix cost

  2. Trintellix official website - savings & support program

  3. Trintellix official website - Trintellix side effects

  4. Trintellix official website

  5. Pharma Compass - Trintellix US patents

  6. FDA - frequently asked questions on patents and exclusivity

  7. FDA - the Orphan Drug Act

The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.
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