Why is Xiidra so expensive?

Xiidra is a brand-name prescription eye drop used to treat the symptoms and signs of dry eye disease.

It is expensive because it’s a brand-name drug with no generic alternative versions available yet. Learn more about why Xiidra is so expensive and what you can do to save money on this medication.

What is Xiidra (lifitegrast)?

Xiidra is an FDA-approved brand-name ophthalmic solution used to treat the symptoms and signs of dry eye disease. It is designed to target a source of inflammation that may cause dry eye syndrome.

In clinical studies, Xiidra was shown to, on average, reduce eye symptoms at 12 and 6 weeks, and provide relief for some patients in as little as 2 weeks. It was also found to reduce the signs of dry eye by week 12 in some patients.  This medication may provide lasting relief of symptoms in as little as 2 weeks for some people with continued twice-daily use.

Dry eye disease is a condition that occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough tears, and the tears aren’t able to provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. This can happen if your tear production is decreased or if your tears are too watery and evaporate too quickly. It can also cause symptoms like burning, stinging, itching, and redness.

Xiidra contains the active ingredient lifitegrast and is packaged in single-dose vials that hold 0.2mL of solution. It comes as a preservative-free liquid solution that’s used as eye drops. It’s available in the dosage strength 5% solution. Xiidra is approved for use in people ages 17 years and older.

Side effects of Xiidra

The most common side effects of Xiidra include eye irritation, blurred vision or discomfort vision when Xiidra eye drops are applied to the eyes including a burning sensation during application, and an unusual taste sensation.

If you wear contact lenses, make sure to remove them prior to using Xiidra. You can reinsert the contact lenses at least 15 minutes after your dose.

Talk to your healthcare professional about all of your medical conditions and any other prescription medications, over-the-counter, or supplements you are taking. If you experience any side effects or possible signs of an allergic reaction, speak with your eye specialist (ophthalmologist) or healthcare provider right away.

Xiidra vs. Restasis

Xiidra (lifitegrast) and Restasis (cyclosporine) are both brand-name prescription eye drops used to treat chronic dry eye. Xiidra is manufactured by Novartis (previously Shire) and Restasis is manufactured by Allergan. Restasis is a 0.05% eye emulsion that is instilled in both eyes every 12 hours or twice per day.

In addition to dryness, Xiidra and Restasis can also treat other symptoms of dry eye disease, including eye fatigue, redness in the eyes, blurry vision, and itchiness in the eyes.

Both drugs have anti-inflammatory properties but are not the same. They are used as eyedrops and are typically instilled into the affected eyes twice daily.

Xiidra and Restasis can be used together, or in combination with other medications to treat dry eye syndrome. Speak with your healthcare provider to find out which medications will work best for treating your condition. You may be referred to an eye care specialist or doctor who specializes in ophthalmology. Your healthcare provider may also recommend an over-the-counter product like artificial tears which is used for the treatment of occasional dryness or irritation in the eyes.

How much does Xiidra cost?

Xiidra costs will vary depending on your health insurance plan and the coverage for this medication.

According to the manufacturer’s website, approximately 1,500,000 people have been prescribed Xiidra and patients with commercial insurance may pay as little as $0 for their Xiidra prescriptions.

For people without prescription drug insurance who need to pay the cash price out of pocket, the list price for a 30-day supply of Xiidra is $553.54, according to the manufacturer.

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Generic Xiidra is not yet available

Xiidra is a brand-name prescription eye drop and there are currently no generic alternatives for Xiidra available. Generic drugs are much cheaper than brand-name drugs.

The earliest date that a generic for Xiidra will become available is April 15, 2029, when patents for Xiidra expire. Until the generic drug is approved by the FDA, individuals who suffer from chronic eye disease will need to purchase the brand-name drug, Xiidra.

RELATED: Brand vs generic drugs

Patent laws

Pharmaceutical patent laws prevent other companies from selling a generic version of the brand-name drug for a certain number of years. In most cases, the patent will expire in 20 years. This exclusivity period provides the proprietor of the drug to recoup their research and development (R&D) costs before other generic drug manufacturers can produce generic versions of the medication. After the patents expire, other companies are then allowed to sell generic versions of the medication.

The FDA must also approve all generic drugs before they can be sold in the United States. Generics must contain the same active ingredients as the brand-name drug and work in the same way. They also must meet the same quality standards as their brand-name counterparts. As multiple generic pharmaceutical companies will likely sell the generic version of the drug, the increased competition will likely result in a significant reduction in the price, providing for more affordable access to the medication.

For medications that are used in the treatment of rare diseases that affect 200,000 or fewer people in the United States, the Orphan Drug Act provides pharmaceutical companies an additional seven years of patent protection.

The patents for Xiidra are expected to expire on April 15, 2029, which is the earliest date a generic pharmaceutical company can apply for FDA approval to market its generic version of the drug.

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 found that medication prices in the United States are on average 2.56 times higher than in other OECD countries. AARP also found that the annual price increases of medications in the United States are continuing to rise at a rate higher than inflation.

With an estimated cost of $553.54 for a 30-day supply of Xiidra, people who suffer from dry eye disease and who do not have prescription drug insurance will need to continue paying a high price for this medication until the generic version is approved.

How do I save on Xiidra?

The high price for Xiidra can make treatment unaffordable for many people who suffer from dry eye disease. Fortunately, there are several options available to help you save money:

  1. Xiidra Savings Card – Novartis provides a savings coupon card to people who meet the eligibility requirements. If eligible, you can save on one fill-up to $250 per 30-day prescription or  $750 per 90-day prescription Check the terms and conditions on the Novartis 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 Xiidra.
  3. Ask your healthcare provider if they can provide free Xiidra samples – Novartis may provide your healthcare professional with Xiidra free samples that are intended for patients that need help getting started on the medication.
  4. Get medical advice from your prescribing healthcare provider and find out if there are any alternative medications that are right for you – find out from your doctor if there is a Xiidra alternative that can help with your condition.
  5. Shop around at mail-order pharmacies – prices by pharmacy may vary so it’s always best to shop around for the best possible price.
  6. Xiidra coupons – you may be able to find a Xiidra manufacturer coupon that can help you save more money.
  7. Help from Medicaid – find out if there is a state Medicaid plan available that will cover the cost of your Xiidra prescription.

Medically reviewed

A medical professional has reviewed this article.

Jamie Winn, PharmD
Jamie Winn, PharmD

Jamie Winn, PharmD

Medical Writer & Reviewer

Jamie Winn, PharmD

Medical Writer & Reviewer

Dr. Jamie Winn received his Doctor of Pharmacy in 2002 from the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Columbia, SC. Jamie is a medical reviewer for NiceRx.

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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.