Friday, November 14, 2014

Abilify: It's Really Expensive!

Sometimes, I like to bother pharmacists.  They are the nicest people, and very patient about looking up medication costs for me.  Once, I wrote a post called The Co$t of Being Depressed, where I compared the cost of anti-depressants. Today,  I'm writing over on our Clinical Psychiatry News website about The Surprisingly High Cost of Abilify. 

Here's the short form, but do surf over there for details:
I called three pharmacies and compared prices on Abilify.
Please remember, this data is for three pharmacies only
  • A single 2 mg tablet cost between $30 and $33 dollars.  More don't cost appreciably less per pill so a 90 day supply ran $2700 at a local independent pharmacy to $2724.81 at Wal-mart.  If you do the math, you'll realized that at Wal-mart there was some discount for bulk : the pill price for 90 tablets is about 30 cents/pill less than for 90 pills. 
  • A single 30mg tablet runs $38-$47.  
  • A 2mg tablet costs the same as a 15mg tablet --which is the same as a 5mg and 10mg tablet
  • A 20mg tablet costs the same as a 30mg tablet.
  • It costs a whole lot less if you split the pills.
  • This stuff is expensive.
 You'll note the graphic above is an animated Abilify commercial.  I hope the pharmaceutical company appreciates the free advertising.


Anonymous said...

I tried abilify for depression about three years ago. The copay through insurance was $90 for a three month supply, or $45 for a one month supply.

Joel Hassman, MD said...

Abilify is "expensive"? No, it is obscenely overpriced, and over indicated. Hence why the company is doing exactly what Lilly did with Zyprexa about 10 years ago, while it was still brand name only went after indications to get it as prescribed as often as, what, sliced bread?

Did you know, Dr Miller, that Lilly went after an indication to treat migraines with it? Thank God the FDA squashed that effort!

And, did you know that I have spoken to two different PCPs in the past year who have told me that Abilify reps are subtle in trying to tell such non psychiatrists that Abilify is a solo antidepressant??

What does that tell anyone who knows better what the agenda is with Abilify? And hopefully the trail will lead to much culpability when the truth is finally realized. Guess these idiot pharmaceutical companies did not pay attention to what was done with Neurontin, then Zyprexa, and Seroquel. But, when the fines are a paltry 5% of the profit margin of the drug, who cares when caught, eh??

Oh, and why don't you talk of how paltry the reps are in sampling Abilify. They NEVER give samples of more than 15mg, ever, and I have worked in 4 different CMHCs the past year, and NONE have had supplies to give more than 4 weeks to about 5-6 patients in a 3-4 week period of time. And yet press us to write for 20mg or more, so how do we make those 5-10mg sample packs last with such daily dosage recommendations? What does that say as well???

I won't even go into the aggravations that Maryland puts us through to get authorizations for this overpriced and overrecommended product.

If I controlled the formulary for this country, I would tell these pharma folks, get real with prices or I would not agree to pay more than a fair amount that is comparable to other brand names in the same class. Watch Abilify shrink in access, and then die as a product. Gee, that would be fun to watch for those of us who are sick and tired of profit margins dictating care interventions.

If I had to consider paying $900 or more a month for a psychiatric drug, I would expect, no, demand that I would be cured within 6 months of use. Wouldn't you?!

Just my opinion.

Steven Reidbord MD said...

Wow, I had no idea it was that expensive. Thanks, Dinah, for this helpful public service. Of course, I now wonder how much similar atypical neuroleptics cost.

Many of my patients split pills to save money, even far less expensive drugs like (real) antidepressants. Except for time-release products, there's rarely harm in doing so — although check with your doc first if you're a patient reading this, as there are exceptions. I also have one patient who orders aripiprazole (generic Abilify) from Canada at great cost savings. Americans pay much higher prices for the same meds than non-Americans do. However, it's my understanding that ordering prescription meds from outside the US is technically illegal.

Over and above the cost, I've long objected to mass-marketing antipsychotics like Abilify and Seroquel for depression. While useful in selected cases, the ads falsely suggest they should be a routine alternative in typical patients. The medical risks, and cost, do not bear this out.

EastCoaster said...

Abilify was always more expensive than brand-name Seroquel. But generic Quetiapine is available. There's a reason for the annoying step therapy requirements.

Abilify costs less than the Hep-C drugs, but those are time limited treatments.

Geodon was kind of pricy too, I think.

Anonymous said...

Latuda isn't cheap either.

Anonymous said...

If you want to check drug prices without having to call individual pharmacies, check out

It allows you to search by zipcode, drug name, number of pills, etc.


Anonymous said...

This won't help your patient who already spent $1000 for a script for Abilify, but he could have received the first script for free.

(I found this link through searching for Abilify on


Dinah said...

Anon #1: yes insurance covers it (sometimes), but the insurance company pays for it and that has an effect on all of society. (I'm not implying you shouldn't take it, I'm implying it shouldn't cost as much).

Dr. Hassman, I'm sure if you saw my caseload and who I write what for, some of it makes no sense. Some of it (this case included) was simply desperation, which is why the patient just paid for it without contacting me about alternate strategies. It was still cheaper than the hospitalization would have been. I only use low doses, I have no experience using it for psychosis and usually use Risperdal (much cheaper) or Zyprexa (also $1000/month for the generic as of the last time I priced it).

Eastcoaster, Seroquel prices used to increase proportional to the dose, so 400mg is very expensive, but last I checked the 25mg ran about $50/for 30 pills.

Anon: Latuda is very expensive, so far I have been able to get samples.

P-K: thank you. I tried with Abilify and my zip code and the prices listed were more than $100/month less than the prices I was quoted last Wednesday. So approximate, but not exact.

Anonymous said...

Holy cow! And, for $30,000 a year you also get

-- neuroleptic malignant syndrome
-- tardive dyskinesia
-- high blood sugar in those with diabetes
-- In the elderly, an increased risk of death
-- pregnancy category C in the United States and Australia, meaning there is possible evidence of harm. It is not recommended in breast feeding.

Seems to me like people too poor to take it are getting the best of the deal.

Anonymous said...

My son was just prescribed Abilify, as a solo anti-depressant, and I see here it isn't even supposed to be used for that nor prescribed to children under 18 years old! Glad we decided not the fill the prescription as "unmanageable" at $1143.99 per month out of pocket.