When you have a chronic disease like rheumatoid arthritis, the treatment and medication costs can add up fast. This includes taking expensive drugs, pricey surgeries and numerous visits to a doctor. It’s a real challenge for patients to afford rheumatoid arthritis medication on a regular basis. Fortunately, there are ways to get help with the cost of these drugs.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
According to CDC, 23% of all adults, or over 54 million people, have arthritis in the United States alone.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common and disabling type of arthritis. It is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints. Swelling, stiffness, and pain in joints are some of the most common symptoms.
“Rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages because the early signs and symptoms mimic those of many other diseases. There is no one blood test or physical finding to confirm the diagnosis.” – Mayo Clinic
How Much Do Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications Cost?
Unfortunately, the medications that work best for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis are quite costly. These “cutting-edge biologic drugs” are allowing people to perform their daily activities in a normal and comforting way which was not possible a few decades ago. Despite their beneficial properties, paying for these drugs is not easy. According to a 2012 study by Consumer Reports magazine, these biogenic drugs can add up to more than $2,000 a month.
Health insurance is not enough for people who have rheumatoid arthritis. They often get hit with substantial out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles or other non-covered charges, making it very hard for people to afford rheumatoid arthritis medication.
Fortunately, there are ways to save money on these drugs. Patient assistance programs, private foundations, pharmacy discounts, and independent discount cards can help lower the cost of your medications.
Different Types of RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) Drugs
1. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
DMARDs are a form of rheumatoid arthritis medication that slows down the progression of joint damage caused by autoimmune attacks. They are not painkillers, but they will reduce the pain and stiffness over a period of time by preventing any further damage that may occur. DMARDs can be categorized into two types: Non-biologics and biologics.
Non-Biologics DMARDs: These are slow acting drugs, that take a longer time to produce effective results. The most common ones include:
- Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)
- Leflunomide (Arava)
- Methotrexate (Rheumatrex and Trexall)
- Gold injections (Myochrysine)
- Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
- Minocycline (Minocin)
- Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
Biologics DMARDs: These recently introduced drugs are prescribed for people with serious conditions. Biologics drugs work by targeting individual molecules and act faster than non-biologics. Following are the most commonly used biologics that have been approved by Uthe S Food and Drug Association for treating rheumatoid arthritis. (None of them are available in a generic version yet)
Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor: These new treatment tools are prescribed to people who do not respond to traditional drugs. Xeljanz XR is the only approved drug on the market currently.
In addition to other treatments, most patients with rheumatoid arthritis are advised to take an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) to decrease pain and inflammation. NSAIDs are available in oral (Advil, Mobic, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Celebrex) as well as in topical options (Voltaren Gel, Bengay, Pennsaid, and Flector patches).
“They block your body’s “Cox” enzymes. This cuts down on inflammation and reduces pain and stiffness.” – Web MD
NSAIDs are sold over-the-counter as well as by prescriptions.
3. Steroids (Corticosteroids)
Fast-acting steroids, such as prednisone, are sometimes prescribed during the initial phase of treatment to relieve pain before other rheumatoid arthritis medications start to take effect.
It is recommended to take the lowest possible dose of steroids and not rely on them longer than necessary.
It’s always a good idea to discuss different medications with your doctor and deciding on the one that works best for you. The American College of Rheumatology is a useful resource for people who are interested in understanding different types of rheumatoid arthritis drugs available and how they function.
The Struggle to Afford Rheumatoid Arthritis Medication:
With rising healthcare costs, most middle-income people are at the risk of not being able to afford the rheumatoid arthritis medication to manage their symptoms. These medications are important as they help them perform daily activities with ease and comfort while increasing their quality of life.
Most insurance plans will cover a portion of the medication once the patient has met their deductible. For many, this means paying a lot out-of-pocket before their insurance will cover a portion. Newer treatments may not yet be covered at all by most insurance plans.
The average cost for Methotrexate 1 mg tablet (a drug used for arthritis) is around $82 for 24 pills. Leflunomide is another medication used to relieve symptoms caused by active rheumatoid arthritis. The average cost for Leflunomide is over $264.20 for a 30 day supply. These expensive drugs can leave many struggling to afford Rheumatoid arthritis medication that they need to improve the quality of their life.
Lower Your Cost for Rheumatoid Arthritis Medication Using Discount Drug Network
Discount Drug Network leverages the power of group purchasing to provide a free discount card that offers up to 85% savings on prescription medication. In the examples of Methotrexate and Leflunomide, the cost went down from $300 to less than $125 per month. That is a significant saving for someone struggling to afford Rheumatoid arthritis medication each month.
How It Works: How Can Anything That is FREE Save Me Money?
Discount Drug Network covers millions of people and leverages the power of group purchasing to negotiate these discounts on behalf of our cardholders. The pharmacies agree to let our members get discount pricing (just like they do already for insurance customers) because they want our business!
They not only give our members fantastic discounts, but they also pay us a small transaction fee each time we process a prescription through our network. This allows us to continue to operate, grow, and save our members money! For the first time, the individual consumer gets access to pricing typically reserved for the largest insurance companies.
The Discount Drug Network card is easy to use. Visit the Discount Drug Network website and use the pricing tool to find the lowest price in your area. Then, simply present the Discount Drug Network card at your pharmacy when you drop off your prescription. It is that easy!