Is Migraine Relief Worth $83 Per Pill To You?

Image courtesy of Edward Kammerer

While you might pay any amount of money for relief in the middle of a migraine headache, patients and insurance companies alike have their ceilings. That’s why it’s a problem when drug companies take old components and combine them into a “new” drug that isn’t so new at all… if you had just bought those pills separately.

The $83 migraine pill is a good example: marketed as Treximet, it combines two generic drugs, sumatriptan and naproxen. The Wall Street Journal interviewed a migraine sufferer about her drug-shopping experience, since she had been prescribed Treximet, and her health insurance company would no longer pay for it. Her choice: pay $750 for a prescription of nine pills or…there were two other choices that she didn’t know about.

The manufacturer, Pernix Therapeutics Holdings Inc., has a patient assistance program where users can get the drug at a lower price; participants in these programs typically can’t be receiving their insurance from a government source (for example, military families or patients on Medicare.) The other option, and what she went with: have her doctor prescribe the two older drugs in the pill separately, with no copay for either.

The drugmaker argues that combining the two drugs in one pill is more convenient. That’s true, but how much is that convenience worth? Treximet isn’t the only drug that combines existing products. Other examples that the Wall Street Journal cites are Acanya, Duexis, and Qsymia.

Drugmakers Turn Cheap Generics Into Expensive Pills [Wall Street Journal]

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