Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Is Nail Fungus Medicine Really Worth Its Weight in Gold?

Nail fungus medicine available with a prescription can be surprisingly expensive if insurance does not cover it.

How much are you willing to spend to get rid of nail fungus? Granted, fungus-ridden nails are unsightly and hard to trim, but for most people they are not a serious health problem.

Nevertheless, drug companies charge a lot of money for nail fungus medicine that offers modest results. TV ads for efinaconazole (Jublia) feature a cartoon toe playing tennis, boxing or tackling toenail fungus in a football helmet. What the ads don’t say is how much it costs or how effective it is. According to the label, it will take 48 weeks of daily applications to achieve a complete cure in 15.2 to 17.8 percent of the people using it.

How Much Would You Pay for a Nail Fungus Medicine?

What’s that worth? One reader sent us the following message:

“I’ve had toe nail fungus for more than 20 years. Sporanox offered limited success, so I figured I would try Jublia due to the ubiquitous commercials shown on TV.

“Once I got a coupon waiving the copayment I asked my doctor to prescribe this nail fungus medicine. He agreed, but when I went to the pharmacy they said it would take a day to get the large size and preapproval from my prescription plan. When I picked it up, the Jublia was in a tiny 8 ml bottle. There are only 20 drops in a milliliter and therefore the entire bottle should only have 160 drops.

“I read that I need 1 drop per toe per day; that’s 10 drops a day and therefore the 160-drop bottle should last about 16 days. I figure about two bottles per month. If the treatment time frame is 10 months, then one would need almost 20 refills.

“Then I looked up the pricing for Jublia and the cost ranged from $1082 at Walmart to $1187 at my RiteAid. So it would cost roughly $22,000 for the full treatment that offers a complete cure rate of 17.8%. That’s absolutely ridiculous!

“I then calculated the cost of the efinaconazole active ingredient. Estimating the active ingredient at 10% solution and 8 ml in my bottle at $1187 the active ingredient is only 0.8 ml. That makes the price of this drug far more than gold.

“Canadian online pharmacies charge around $20/ml, so my 8 ml bottle would cost roughly $160. Here in the US we pay 7.4 times as much. I am embarrassed that I cost my drug plan that kind of money and I will NOT be refilling this prescription.”

Alternatives to Nail Fungus Medicine:

Home remedies are rarely tested in controlled trials and the FDA does not approve them. They are, however, far less expensive than prescription anti-fungal medicines.

Readers report surprising success with a variety of such approaches.


One person offers this formula:

“Put about an inch of cornmeal in a plastic dishpan. Pour in hot water, stir it so the cornmeal gets dissolved and when it is cool enough not to hurt, soak your feet for an hour. Done regularly, this will get rid of the fungus.”

Listerine and Vinegar:

Another reader tells about her experience:

“My toenail fungus has affected all my nails and on four nails it’s very bad. I have been soaking my feet in a 50/50 mixture of Listerine and vinegar for about a month and for the first time I’m actually seeing progress.

“I had tried many expensive products previously with absolutely no luck! I soak 30 minutes twice a day. I’m not out of the woods yet, but my daughter agrees that the fungus seems to be retreating.”

Anyone who would like to learn about other remedies may find our Guide to Hair and Nail Care helpful.

Rate this article
4.5- 20 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.