How much money do you spend on prescription drugs each year? If you’re like most Americans, it’s probably a lot.
On average, Americans spend $1,200 per year on medications, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That’s more than any other country in the world. It’s true that people in the U.S. take a lot of medicines, and that contributes somewhat to our large share of pharmaceutical spending.
But, the biggest factor is the high price of prescription drugs in this country.
For example, per capita spending on cancer drugs in the U.S. is $173 compared to $4.50 in China, according to a report from The IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science (formerly IMS Health and Quintiles). The median price of new cancer drugs in 2018 was $149,000. And while insurance does cover some of those costs, patients still spend hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars per year out of pocket on these life-saving medicines.
High-priced prescription drugs are a public health problem
The problem of over-priced prescription drugs is much more than a nuisance. It is a public health issue that is affecting health outcomes for people all over the country.
“People who are sick should not have to worry about how they are going to afford their medications,” says Ramzi Yacoub, Pharm.D., the chief pharmacy officer for SingleCare. “They should be focused on taking the medications and improving their health.”
“It’s very hard on families,” says Janet Fritsch, pharmacist and owner of Corner Drug Hometown in Baraboo, Wisconsin. “Even if they’re working and have a job, the prices might be too high, especially for people with chronic diseases like diabetes. Even with insurance, insulin might cost $100, $200, or more for a copay. And that’s just for one drug. They might have five prescriptions. Some patients come in and say they can only pick up one drug today and they’ll come back next week for the others. So what are they taking this week?”
Medications can be particularly difficult to afford for people with chronic illnesses, or people who are underinsured. “Frequently, people with chronic medical conditions require multiple medications to manage their conditions,” says Laurie Bond, CRNP, a nurse practitioner with Evolve Direct Primary Care in Annapolis, Maryland. “For example, on average, someone with hypertension takes three different medications to control his or her blood pressure.”
“People with chronic illnesses, especially those over 65, would benefit the most [from saving on prescription drugs],” says Dr. Fritsch. “They are the people who are on fixed incomes and have Medicare part D with a coverage gap. Or people that fall in the in-between.” She describes “the in-between” as having too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but too little money to pay for expensive drugs. Or perhaps these patients have employer provided health insurance, but that insurance has a very high deductible.
SingleCare helps patients save money on prescriptions
At SingleCare, we have saved our customers millions of dollars on prescription medications. However, there are many drugs for which the average prescription savings was much higher.
Here is a breakdown of our top 10 biggest prescription savings of 2019.
Amphetamine-dextroamphetamine is a stimulant medication that can treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This drug (with brand names Adderall and Mydayis) can help increase a patient’s ability to pay attention, control behavior, and organize tasks. It’s an important medication to both children and adults alike—and we helped our customers save over $13 million on the drug in 2019 alone.
2. Atorvastatin calcium
The brand-name drug Lipitor and its generic, atorvastatin calcium, are statins used to treat high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This drug reduces a patient’s risk of angina, stroke, heart attack, and other heart and blood vessel problems. It’s a popular prescription, which is why we’re proud to say we saved people nearly $10 million on it this year.
You may not know the generic name tadalafil, but you likely know the brand name… Cialis. Healthcare providers prescribe Cialis to treat erectile dysfunction. But less commonly, it can be prescribed to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, or high blood pressure in the lungs. Whatever the reason it was prescribed, SingleCare helped our customers save over $8 million on it.
4. Rosuvastatin calcium
Like Lipitor, Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium) is a statin. “It is one of the new oral medications used to treat high cholesterol and one of the more potent, which is part of the reason it has a higher cash price,” says Dr. Yacoub. The cash price tag is nearly $300, but with SingleCare, you’ll pay only $48.41. So many customers have cashed in on that prescription savings, that we’ve saved people a total of $8.3 million!
“Gabapentin has a couple of FDA-approved indications,” Dr. Yacoub says. Those include seizures and neuropathic pain. Under multiple brand names (Gralise, Neuraptine, Gralise 30-Day Starter Pack, SmartRx Gaba-V Kit, Horizant, and Neurontin), gabapentin can really add up since it’s taken “once a day to three times a day,” Dr. Yacoub explains. With a SingleCare savings card though, you can save over 70%—and in 2019, we saved people nearly $7 million on the prescription medication.
6. Sildenafil citrate
Similar to Cialis, Viagra (sildenafil citrate) is a drug that treats erectile dysfunction and occasionally high blood pressure in the lungs as well. SingleCare has helped our customers save $6.6 million on the prescription in 2019.
7. Amlodipine besylate
Norvasc (amlodipine besylate) treats chest pain, high blood pressure, and other problems caused by coronary artery disease. This drug dilates the blood vessels and improves blood flow. It’s a life-saver for many, which is why an affordable price is important. The average SingleCare price is just $12.89—and our users have taken advantage of that prescription savings to the tune of $6.5 million.
8. Amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium
Dr. Yacoub explains that Augmentin (amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium) is an antibiotic in the same class as penicillin. It is one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics, as it is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections, including sinusitis, bronchitis, strep throat, pneumonia, ear infections, urinary tract infections, and many others. And that could explain why our customers have saved nearly $4 million on the drug throughout the year.
9. Losartan potassium
Cozaar (losartan potassium) is prescribed to treat high blood pressure and also helps to lower the risk of stroke in people with heart disease. Our customers have saved over $3 million with our Cozaar coupons in 2019.
10. Oseltamivir phosphate
Oseltamivir phosphate (known by its brand name Tamiflu) is an antiviral used to treat and prevent the flu. While getting your annual flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the virus, this medication can reduce the number of days that you’re sick if you become infected and start therapy within 48 hours of first symptoms. SingleCare offers a nearly half-price cash discount—which racked up to a total of $3.3 million in prescription savings this year.
Americans spend way too much money on prescription drugs, and this causes a financial burden for many families. If you are one of the millions of Americans who takes prescription medication daily, you need every tool available to save money. We hope that SingleCare can help. Find the best price your prescriptions here.