The 11 most expensive medications


Former Executive Editor, Harvard Health

ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. 

At an out-of-pocket cost around $6 a pill (about $2,000 a year), Plavix is a pricey drug. But that’s peanuts compared to the $409,500 price tag for a year’s worth of Soliris, a drug used to treat a rare blood disease known as paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. Forbes magazine has called Soliris the world’s most expensive drug.

In a recent post, the Medical Billing and Coding blog listed the 11 most expensive medicines in America:

  • Soliris, $409,500 per year
  • Elaprase, $375,000 per year
  • Naglazyme, $365,000 per year
  • Cinryze, $350,000 per year
  • ACTH, $300,000 for two course of treatment
  • Folotyn, $30,000 per month
  • Myozyme, $100,000 per year for children, $300,000 for adults
  • Arcalyst, $250,000 per year
  • Ceredase/Cerezyme, $200,000 per year
  • Fabrazyme, $200,000 per year
  • Aldurazyme, $200,000

You probably haven’t heard of these drugs unless you, a family member, or friend has a rare disease like paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, Maroteaux-Lamy syndrome, or Fabry disease. All of the drugs in the list are so-called orphan drugs, developed specifically to treat rare conditions.

The post raises questions about how much is too much when it comes to drug costs. If one of these drugs is keeping you or a family member alive, the sky’s the limit. If not, the cost can seem excessive.

In the best of all possible worlds, these and other expensive but necessary drugs and devices would be free to the folks who need them. That would, of course, shift the cost to society as a whole. It also doesn’t factor in the enormous expense of developing and making new drugs. Without a return on that investment, drug companies have no incentive to develop new life-saving medications.

Do you think there should be a cap on what a company can charge for a drug?

Read the full post about the 11 most expensive medications on the Medical Billing and Coding blog.


Commenting has been closed for this post.