Herceptin (trastuzumab) is a prescription drug that’s used to treat certain types of breast and stomach cancer. Herceptin’s cost may depend on factors such as your dosage and whether you have health insurance.
Specifically, Herceptin is used in adults for:
- adjuvant treatment (to prevent cancer from returning) for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2-positive) breast cancer
- HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (cancer that’s spread to other parts of the body)
- HER2-positive metastatic stomach cancer or esophageal adenocarcinoma
The active ingredient in Herceptin is trastuzumab. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.)
Herceptin comes as a powder that’s mixed with a liquid to make a solution. This solution is given as an intravenous (IV) infusion (an injection into a vein given slowly over time) by a healthcare professional.
For more details on Herceptin, see this in-depth article.
The price you pay for Herceptin can vary. It may depend on your treatment plan and your insurance coverage (if you have it). It will also depend on how much you have to pay for an office visit at a clinic or hospital to receive Herceptin infusions.
To find out how much you’ll pay for Herceptin, talk with your doctor or insurance provider.
Note: If you have insurance, you may need to get prior authorization before your insurance provider will cover Herceptin. This means your insurer and your doctor will discuss Herceptin in regard to your treatment. Then the insurance company will determine whether the drug is covered. If Herceptin requires prior authorization and you don’t receive it before you start treatment, you could pay the full cost of the drug.
Be sure to ask your insurance company whether Herceptin requires prior authorization.
Herceptin is a biologic drug, which means it’s made from parts of living organisms. It comes in several biosimilar forms. Biosimilars are like generic drugs. But unlike generics, which are made for nonbiologic drugs, biosimilars are made for biologic drugs.
Why is there such a cost difference between biologic drugs and biosimilar drugs?
Biologic drugs can be expensive because of the research and testing needed to ensure their safety and effectiveness. The manufacturer of a biologic drug can sell it for up to
12 years. When the biologic drug’s patent expires, other drugmakers can create biosimilar versions. This competition in the market may lead to lower costs for biosimilars. And because biosimilars are very similar to biologic drugs, they don’t need to be studied again. This can also lead to lower costs for biosimilars.
If you need help covering the cost of Herceptin or understanding your insurance, check out these resources:
On these sites, you can find insurance information, details on drug assistance programs, and links to savings cards and other services.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about Herceptin and cost.
How does the cost of Herceptin compare with that of similar drugs, such as Perjeta?
The cost of Herceptin compared with the cost of similar drugs such as Perjeta (pertuzumab) can depend on several factors. For example, your cost for Herceptin compared with Perjeta may depend on your dosage and the treatment plan for each medication.
Other factors that may affect how much you pay may include:
- whether there are savings programs available for the drug you’re prescribed
- whether you have insurance or are paying out of pocket
If you have questions about the cost of Herceptin compared with similar medications, talk with your doctor or insurance provider. They can share more details on treatment costs based on your specific situation.
What’s the cost of Herceptin without insurance vs. with insurance?
The cost of Herceptin without insurance versus with insurance can vary based on several factors.
Some factors that may affect your cost of Herceptin without insurance include:
- your treatment plan and drug dosage
- any savings programs you apply and qualify for
The same factors affect your cost of the drug if you’re paying through insurance. But in addition, your cost with insurance may depend on:
- your individual plan benefits
- any prior authorization requirements for your plan
To find out more about your cost with and without insurance, check with your doctor or insurance provider (if you have one).
Whether you have insurance or not, you can visit Optum Perks* to get price estimates for Herceptin when you use coupons from the site. It’s important to note that Optum Perks coupons cannot be used with any insurance copays or benefits.
* Optum Perks is a sister site of Healthline.
If you still have questions about the cost of Herceptin, talk with your doctor. They may be able to give you a better idea of what you’ll pay for this drug. But if you have health insurance, you’ll need to talk with your insurance provider to learn the actual cost you’d pay for Herceptin.
Examples of questions you may want to ask your doctor or insurance provider include:
- Does the cost of Herceptin depend on the condition it’s being used to treat?
- How does the cost of Herceptin compare with biosimilar versions of the medication?
- Are there other lower cost options to treat my condition if I can’t afford Herceptin?
To learn more about Herceptin, see these articles:
- Herceptin injection (trastuzumab)
- Side Effects of Herceptin: What You Need to Know
- Dosage for Herceptin: What You Need to Know
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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.