Price of estrogen drugs jumped 200% in 4 years: 5 takeaways

The price of estrogen replacement therapies used to treat menopause symptoms doubled between 2014 and 2018, according to an analysis from GoodRx.

Here are five things to know:

1. About half of the 55 million American women over age 51 experience menopause symptoms for which estrogen replacement therapies are prescribed.

2. GoodRx examined a representative sample of U.S. prescription fills using data from pharmacies and payers nationwide for three brand-name estrogen drugs: Estring, Estrace and Vagifem. The three drugs all contain estradiol as their main ingredient, which has been around for more than 50 years.

3. However, the price of these drugs still skyrocketed over the four-year period, based on each drug's full list price at the pharmacy, which does not include insurance co-pays or co-insurance.

"Uninsured patients who paid less than $300 for a month's supply of Estring in 2014, for example, now have to shell out $520 per month for the same medication," Benita Lee, a member of GoodRx's research team, wrote in the analysis.

4. The FDA has approved two generic versions of Vagifem and one generic version of Estrace, but no generic alternatives to Estring. The agency also approved Imvexxy — a new estradiol product — last week, but its manufacturer said it plans to set the drug's price in line with other estrogen therapies on the market.

5. GoodRx noted manufacturer coupons are available for eligible patients to receive about $40 to $100 off when filling a prescription for one of the estrogen drugs.

"Still, at hundreds of dollars per month for these hormone therapies, it's no wonder that many women suffering from vaginal pain and discomfort from low estrogen levels just choose to go without and wait for cheaper solutions in the future," Ms. Lee concluded.






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