People with chronic joint pain often find themselves between a rock and a hard place. If they take an NSAID pain reliever, they can keep moving–which is good. But they may also suffer serious digestive tract damage, up to and including bleeding ulcers. Not so good. One drug company has brought out a combination pain reliever, Duexis, that includes medicine to protect the gastrointestinal system. But why is it so very expensive?
Duexis Is a Pricey Pain Reliever:
Q. I need a hip replacement, but I have been able to delay surgery thus far. I’ve been taking Duexis (800 mg of ibuprofen and 26.6 mg of famotidine in a single tablet) and that has been effective in alleviating pain.
When I went to my pharmacy to pick up the pills, I was told my insurance company would not pay for it. It would cost me nearly $3,000 for a month’s supply.
My doctor wrote a justification to the insurance company, and I was surprised to learn my co-pay was now zero, but for just two months. After that, my co-pay would be $200. I contacted the insurance company that said Duexis is not a preferred prescription. The preferred prescription would actually be two prescriptions, one for the ibuprofen and one for famotidine. This does not make sense to me. Why is Duexis so expensive?
Companies Can Charge What They Like:
A. The online coupon service GoodRX lists the average retail price of Duexis as $3,087 per month. With a GoodRX coupon, you can knock about $500 off the bill, but that’s still pricey. We’re not aware of any obvious reason why this drug should cost so much. However, pharmaceutical firms get to set their own prices. The makers of Duexis may have decided to charge a lot for it so that they would make money even if few people took it.
Other Options for Stomach-Safe Pain Relief:
Have you and your doctor discussed the two-prescription option? Both ibuprofen and famotidine are inexpensive (under $10 a month for both). Although taking the two drugs together in Duexis is more convenient, you may be able to get similar pain relief and stomach protection by taking these medications separately.