Mylan's in the hot seat after U.S. health officials and lawmakers claimed that it misclassified its EpiPen, allowing it to pay lower rebates to the Medicaid program. However, the pharmaceutical company is also under fire for simply charging so much for the epinephrine product.
In 2008, an EpiPen two-pack cost about $100. Now, that price has jumped to $600, which Mylan justified as reflecting important features in the product and the overall value it brings.
Epinephrine injectors are crucial for many because they make it convenient to administer the drug, which treats adverse allergic reactions. There are others in the market, but Mylan's EpiPen is the most recognized, giving it a leg up over the competition and essentially the freedom to dictate the product's price.
But while the EpiPen's price has drastically increased over the years, the epinephrine injector is far from being the costliest in the market today.
According to a list compiled by GoodRX, a startup that puts together drug prices and offers discounts to help people save on prescriptions, many of the most expensive drugs in the United States are for rare conditions or for treating and curing hepatitis C.
GoodRX refers to what it calls a "fair price" to rank available medications, and is based on the maximum amount that people should be paying for a particular drug. Additionally, listed prices are for 30-day supplies, except in cases where medication doses can't be relegated to a monthly schedule.
At the top of the list is Gilead's Sovaldi (sofosbuvir). A nucleotide polymerase inhibitor, the hepatitis C drug has a GoodRX Fair Price of $81,000 for a 12-week regimen. When combined with simeprevir, the treatment boasts of cure rates of more than 90 percent. However, this combination has not been specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This makes insurers reluctant to pay for the medication, driving up costs that a patient has to cover.
At $79,200 for a month-long supply, Harvoni (ledipasvir and sofosbuvir) is the second most expensive drug in America. Also a hepatitis C treatment, the one-tablet-a-day drug is an effective cure for more than 90 percent of patients diagnosed with genotype 1 hepatitis C. For how long Harvoni has to be taken, however, depends on whether or not liver cirrhosis is present.
Rounding up the top three is Cinryze (human c1 esterase inhibitor) with a $72,100 price tag. Used to treat hereditary angiodema, it is pooled from human plasma and is best prescribed for acute angiodema characterized by swelling in the throat and mouth.
Others that made it on GoodRX's top 10 most expensive drugs list include Daklinza (daclatasvir) at $54,300; HP Acthar (corticotropin) at $51,600; Olysio (simeprevir) at $44,800; Orkambi (lumacaftor and ivacaftor) at $44,200; Cuprimine (penicillamine) at $39,800; Firazyr (icatibant) $35,800; and Viekira Pak (ombitasvir, paritaprevir, ritonavir and dasabuvir) at $34,600.