Lower RA Medication Costs with Patient Assistance Programs

Written by Kimberly Holland | Published on June 23, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George T. Krucik, MD, MBA on June 23, 2014

Overview

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition. RA causes painful swelling and inflammation in your joints. In RA, the lining of affected joints swell and can eventually cause joint deformities. The most commonly affected joints are in your hands and feet.

RA is an incurable autoimmune disorder. RA treatments are designed to ease its symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Not only is RA a long-term disease, its treatments can be costly. Out-of-pocket expenses for RA treatment can be too much for many people. Fortunately, assistance and resources are available.

Learn about common RA treatments, how much they may cost, and ways you can lower your drug expenses.

Price Comparison for the Most Popular RA Medications

There is no single drug that treats rheumatoid arthritis for everyone. Many of the most common RA medications fall into five categories: corticosteroids, NSAIDs, DMARDs, biologics, and JAK inhibitors. The prices listed below are an average of the estimated retail costs for both brand name and generic drugs. Retail costs represent the price of a drug without insurance. These prices are an average of estimated cash cost from across several websites, including DrugPriceInfo.com, GoodRx.com, and Costco.com. Biologics prices were obtained from Healthline’s Consumer Reports page.

View the full report on biologics from Consumer Reports »

Corticosteroids

Prednisone (Deltasone)
$15 for 30 10 mg tablets generic

Prednisolone (Millipred)
$26 for 60 mL of 15 mg/mL syrup generic

Methylprednisolone (Medrol)
$49 for 30 4 mg tablets generic

NSAIDs

Meloxicam (Mobic)
$314 for 30 15 mg tablets brand name
$20 for 30 15 mg tablets generic

Etodolac (Lodine)
$101 for 60 300 mg tablets brand name
$93 for 60 300 mg tablets generic

Nabumetone (Relafen)
$80 for 60 500 mg tablets generic

Sulindac (Clinoril)
$95 for 60 200 mg tablets brand name
$88 for 60 200mg tablets generic

Diclofenac potassium (Cataflam)
$79 for 60 50 mg tablets generic

Diflusinal (Dolobi)
$57 for 30 500 mg tablets generic

Ketoprofen (Orudis, Oruvail)
$30 for 30 75 mg capsules generic

Oxaprozin (Daypro)
$112 for 30 600 mg tablets generic

Piroxicam (Feldene)
$82 for 30 20 mg capsules generic

Celecoxib (Celebrex)
$232 for 30 200 mg capsules brand name

DMARDs

Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
$146 for 30 200 mg tablets brand name
$33 for 30 200 mg tablets generic

Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
$23 for 60 500 mg tablets generic

Leflunomide (Arava)
$1,081 for 30 20 mg tablets brand name
$218 for 30 20mg tablets generic

Azathioprine (Imuran)
$39 for 30 50 mg tablets generic

Methotrexate (Trexall)
$100 for 30 2.5mg tablets generic

Biologics

Abatacept (Orencia)
$2,215 per month for 125 mg/mL brand name

Adalimumab (Humira)
$2,632-$5,264 per month for 40 mg injectable kit brand name

Adalimumab (Humira)
$2,654-$5,308 per month for 40 mg pen injector brand name

Anakinra (Kineret)
$1,796 per month for 100 mg disposable syringes brand name

Certolizumab (Cimzia)
$2,739 per month for 400 mg injectable kit brand name

Etanercept (Enbrel)
$1,197 per month for 25 mg prefilled syringe brand name

Etanercept (Enbrel)
$2,444 per month for 50 mg of prefilled syringe brand name

Etanercept (Enbrel)
$2,690 per month for 50 mg pen injector brand name

Golimumab (Simponi)
$2,880 per month for 50 mg prefilled syringe brand name

Golimumab (Simponi)
$2,864 per month for 50 mg pen injector brand name

Infliximab (Remicade)
$2,296-$4,592 per month for 100 mg brand name

Rituximab (Rituxan)
$1,324 per month for 10 mg/ML brand name

Tocilizumab (Actemra)
$1,797 per month for 200 mg/10 mL brand name

Tocilizumab (Actemra)
$1,825 per month for 400 mg/20 mL brand name

JAK inhibitors

Tofacitinib citrate (Xeljanz)
$2,758 for 60 5 mg tablets generic

Help for Prescription Costs

Treating RA can quickly add up to high bills. Fortunately, pharmaceutical companies and non-profit organizations have created ways to help lower your costs. A Patient Assistance Program (PAP) is a plan that’s designed to help patients receive their medications at reduced cost. Each PAP maintains its own eligibility standards, so if you don’t qualify for one PAP, you may still qualify for several others. Here are several PAPs that can help people with RA get their medicine at a lower cost.

Partnership for Prescription Assistance

Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) is a prescription program funded by pharmaceutical companies. PPA searches multiple prescription assistance plans at once, so you can find all the programs for which you might qualify.

To find out if you’re eligible, search for the medication or medications you take. Fill out a brief survey with your age, income, zip code, and health insurance status. As an example, a 53-year-old patient living in Alabama, taking Humira, and making less than $25,000 a year might qualify for the AbbVie Patient Assistance Foundation program.

The next step in the process requires you to pick the plans you’d like to apply for. Then you download the applications. Each plan maintains different requirements for to participate in its program. Follow the instructions provided by PPA, fill out your applications, and submit them to see if you qualify and can begin saving money.

RxHope

RxHope is a PAP designed to help low-income U.S. residents find prescription assistance. To see if you qualify for assistance through RxHope, you will need to ask your doctor’s office or a social worker to submit an application for you. Your information will be sent to the pharmaceutical company for approval. If you qualify, the pharmaceutical company will reach out to you with information on how you can begin saving money.

For example, if you take Enbrel to treat your RA, you may qualify for the ENcourage Foundation, a program run by the makers of Enbrel. Take the information from RxHope with you to your next doctor’s appointment and ask the office manager for help applying for assistance.

RxAssist

RxAssist is a patient assistance program center. It’s part of the Center for Primary Care and Prevention at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island. RxAssist helps patients find PAPs for which they might qualify.

To find out if you’re eligible for assistance, search for your prescription names on the RXAssist website. For example, if you enter piroxicam, you will find 12 programs that may help cover the cost of this NSAID. In this case, all 12 programs are generic drug plans provided by large pharmacies. These pharmacies offer a flat rate for certain generic medicines.

If you search for the more costly biologic treatment Enbrel, you will see two programs that may help. Amgen, Inc., makers of Enbrel, runs both programs. One is a pharmacy card that may help lower your out-of-pocket costs when you fill a prescription. The other is a PAP, which is a plan that helps get patients low- or no-cost medication through the pharmaceutical company itself.

NeedyMeds

NeedyMeds is a non-profit organization that helps patients get assistance paying for their prescriptions. NeedyMeds maintains a database of PAPs and other cost-saving programs that can help patients cut their monthly pharmacy bill.

If you take Plaquenil, a NeedyMeds search will return one PAP that may help you. The listing on the NeedyMeds website contains contact and basic eligibility information for the program. If you think you’re eligible, you can click through to the program’s website and begin the application process.

RxOutreach

RxOutReach is a mail-order pharmacy. Its goal is to provide prescriptions at little or no cost to uninsured and underinsured patients.

See if you’re eligible for assistance by comparing your age, income, and household size with RxOutreach’s eligibility plan. If you meet the criteria, you can apply for coverage once you have a prescription from your doctor. Fill out the online application, or print and mail a paper application.

If you’re eligible and take the NSAID diclofenac potassium (Cataflam), RxOutreach may be able to help you get a 90-day supply for as little as $25. The NSAID etodolac (Lodine) can be as low as $30 for a 90-day supply, and Plaquenil is $25 for a 90-day supply for eligible patients.

Find the Help You Need

Treating RA is a life-long process. Over the years, your out-of-pocket costs can add up. Even if you have health insurance and prescription coverage, you may need additional help paying for your treatments and therapies. Fortunately, healthcare organizations and companies are helping. Don’t let the costs of treating your RA overwhelm you. Research your medicines to find the most cost-effective ways of paying, and investigate patient assistance programs to see if you qualify. 

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