Why is Trulicity so expensive?
Trulicity is an expensive prescription medication that is proven to lower blood sugar levels. Americans pay more for medications than people in any other country. Learn more about why Trulicity is so expensive and what options are available for you to save on this medication.
What is Trulicity (dulaglutide)?
Trulicity is an FDA-approved prescription medication used to improve glycemic control (blood glucose levels) in adults with type 2 diabetes. It is also used for reducing the risk of major cardiovascular events including death, heart attack, or stroke in people who have heart disease or multiple cardiovascular risk factors. This medication belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 agonists). This medication is not approved for the treatment of type 1 diabetes.
Trulicity is injected once weekly under the skin of your stomach, thigh, or upper arm. Trulicity is manufactured by Eli Lilly USA, LLC and was approved by the FDA in 2014.
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Trulicity side effects
The most common side effects of Trulicity are:
- abdominal pain
- decreased appetite
The most serious side effects of Trulicity are:
- inflamed pancreas (pancreatitis)
- low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- acute kidney injury
- severe stomach problems
- changes in vision
If you experience any side effects or possible signs of an allergic reaction while taking this medication, speak with your healthcare provider right away. You are also encouraged to report negative side effects to the FDA. Let your healthcare provider know about all of the other medications, over-the-counter products, and supplements you are taking. To report side effects of this medication, visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
How much does Trulicity cost?
The estimated out-of-pocket cost for Trulicity without insurance is $886.36 per month (around works $222 per week), which can vary based on the dose prescribed by your healthcare provider. This is the list price estimated by the manufacturer.
Trulicity prices can vary based on your health insurance coverage and your insurance company plan’s coverage for this medication. Contact your insurance broker or pharmacist to find out if your health insurance plan covers Trulicity under its formulary.
Each Medicare plan has its own formulary and will determine how much it will cover for each medication. Some insurance plans can place Trulicity on a higher tier which means that this medication will have to pay a higher coinsurance or copayment. Other insurance plans can exempt Trulicity from the annual deductible amount as well.
According to the manufacturer, around 70% of people who have prescription drug coverage through Medicare (including Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage) pay between $0-100 per month, and the remaining people pay an average of $207 per month.
Why is Trulicity so expensive?
There are a few reasons why Trulicity is so expensive in the United States:
Generic version of Trulicity is not available
A generic version of Trulicity is not yet available. The earliest possible date a generic version could become available is from 2027-2029, when the patents expire. Until then, there will be no generic drug alternatives available for this medication. Typically, generic drugs cost less than brand-name drugs.
The high cost of brand-name Trulicity is due to the expensive research and development costs associated with bringing a new medication to market. Drug companies often charge high prices for new medications to recoup these costs.
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Patent law protection
Brand-name prescription drug costs are also very expensive in the United States due to the patent laws that prevent generic drugs from being marketed until the brand-name drug’s patent expires, which is generally 20 years after the initial application date. The patents for Trulicity will expire around 2027-2029.
When a pharmaceutical company discovers a new drug and introduces it to the market for the first time, the company is given an exclusive right to market that drug by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The patent protection period is intended to allow the pharmaceutical company to recoup its investment in researching, developing and marketing the drug for the first time. Pharmaceutical companies often spend billions of dollars on marketing and advertising their drugs each year. This is one reason why brand-name drugs are often more expensive than generic drugs.
After the patent expires, other drug companies are then able to market generic versions of the drug. Generic drugs are typically much less expensive than brand-name drugs because the generic manufacturers do not have the same costs associated with bringing a new drug to market.
Unregulated pharmaceutical prices in the United States
Prescription drug prices aren’t regulated in the United States. This means that drug companies can charge whatever price the market will bear. In contrast, many other developed countries have some form of price controls on pharmaceuticals.
For example, in Europe, most countries have some type of price regulation, whether it’s through government negotiations with drug companies or through reference pricing, where the government sets a maximum reimbursement price for a group of similar drugs.
In the United States, drug companies are free to set their own prices, and they often do so based on what the market will bear. This is one of the reasons why prescription drugs are so much more expensive in the United States than in other developed countries.
A study by RAND shows that medication prices in the United States are on average 2.56 times higher than in other OECD countries.
How do I save on Trulicity?
Trulicity is an expensive diabetes medication, especially for those who do not have prescription drug coverage for this medication. Fortunately, there are a few options that could possibly help you save money on your Trulicity prescription:
- Trulicity Savings Card – the manufacturer offers a savings card to help save money. If eligible, you can pay as low as $25 for 12 Trulicity pens. 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 are eligible for enrollment into a Trulicity patient assistance program.
- Ask your prescribing doctor for free samples of Trulicity – many pharmaceutical companies provide healthcare providers with free samples to provide to their patients in order to help them get started on the medication.
- Get medical advice from your healthcare professional and find out if there are any alternative medicines for your medical condition – ask your prescribing doctor if there are any less expensive alternatives to Trulicity.
- 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 the lowest possible price for your medicine.
- Trulicity coupons – find out if there is a Trulicity manufacturer coupon that can help you save money on this medication.
- Get help from Medicaid – find out if you are eligible for a state Medicaid plan that may cover the cost of Trulicity.