How to Lower Your Herpes Prescription Costs
If you’ve ever had to pay out of pocket for your genital herpes medications, you may have been shocked. Often these drugs can run well over $100 for a single prescription. For many, that’s simply not in the budget.
Your herpes medication does not have to be a budget breaker if you know where to look and who to ask.
Talk to your doctor. Often we get samples of expensive brand name drugs and can help patients by giving them some or all of their prescription. We also get coupons that can often drop the price of a drug to around 10-20 dollars.
Go online. Many pharmaceutical companies, including GSK - the maker of Valtrex - has a patient assistance program for people who qualify. Also check out these websites:
Partnership for Prescription Assistance https://www.pparx.org/, RxAssist: Accessing Pharmaceutical Patient Assistance Programs https://www.rxassist.org/ and RxHope: The Heart of the Pharmaceutical Industry https://www.rxhope.com/, which keep lists of patient or drug assistance programs.
Shop around. A recent study showed that the cost of a single drug can vary by 60% or even 70% based on the pharmacy you shop at. In general, the bricks and mortar chain pharmacies are A LOT more expensive than Walmart, Target or the warehouse clubs such as Sams or Costco. For example: the cholesterol lowering statin drug Zocor was found to be $90 at Walgreens, $80 at CVS, $12 at Costco and $6 at Sam’s Club. And don’t worry about being a member of the warehouse club. In many states, membership isn’t mandatory to use the pharmacy.
Buy generic. T he most popular genital herpes drugs have only been available as brand name drugs, but that’s about to change. In late August, the FDA cleared the way for a Teva Pharmaceutical Industries to produce a generic version of Famvir. In early September, Teva announced that they began shipment of their generic equivalent called famciclovir to pharmacies.
Generic drugs, by definition, contain the same ingredients as their brand name counterparts and are assumed to be identical in dose, strength, safety, efficacy, and intended use. A drug is eligible to become generic (it loses its patent) twenty years after development - which is often 10 to 12 years after it’s on the market (assuming that the rest of the time they are being studied in clinical trials).
What most people love about generic drugs is the cost. Once the patent is removed, competition in the marketplace drives down the costs of the drug, making a very expensive brand name drug into a much more affordable alternative. Famciclovir is going to be MUCH cheaper than its brand name equivalent or Valtrex.
One important caveat: insurance companies also love generics. If you are a user of Valtrex, don’t be surprised if they make you switch to generic Famvir.
Charlotte Grayson, M.D., is an internist in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. She is a 1995 graduate of Boston University School of Medicine. She completed her internal medicine residency in 1998 at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Previously, Dr. Grayson was Senior Medical Editor for a leading healthcare content company. She frequently speaks to the media about health, appearing on Fox News and CNN and contributing to TIME, Real Simple, Women’s Health, and WebMD magazines.