The Most Expensive Drugs in the World

In the fall of 2015 the price of an antiparasitic drug called Daraprim was raised from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Martin Shkreli, the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals and founder of a hedge fund, was vilified by the press. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump all jumped on the bandwagon criticizing the sky high cost of drugs and pledging to end the practice if they were elected president.

To be sure, a 5,000 percent increase is outrageous. And one day economics will take over, payers will revolt (they already are) and perhaps skyrocketing drug prices will abate. But Mr. Shkreli meteoric price inflation can’t match some of the most expensive drugs in the world. In fact, Daraprim wouldn’t even break into the top ten! When Gilead came out with Sovaldi to treat hepatitis, the world was in an uproar over its $84,000 price tag (few bothered to compare that price tag with a liver transplant!). Then Bristol Myers Squibb came out with two massively successful anti-cancer drugs: Opdivo and Yervoy, and the price approached $125,000 for each.

As we reported in the December 2015 issue of In Sickness and Wealth, some of these treatments literally cost more than a house, but reflected data from late 2014. We decided to update the list. Below we have listed (by cost per year per patient) the most expensive drugs in the world. Not to take sides regarding these obscenely expensive medications, but many are used for extremely rare—often hereditary—disorders. The number of patients afflicted with these rare disorders is so small – and the concomitant cost to develop, test and manufacture these drugs is so high – that the developing company justifies charging a huge sum just to amortize their costs. Fortunately, many expensive drugs are covered by insurance although some are not.

Most Expensive Drugs in the World
Drug Cost Manufacturer Used to treat
Glybera $1,200,000 UniQure Rare lipase deficiency
Soliris $536,000 Alexion Nocturnal Paroxysmal Hemoglobinuria
Naglazyme $485,000 BioMarin Maroteaux Lamy Syndrome
Vimizim $380,000 BioMarin Morquio A Syndrome
Elaprase $375,000 Shire Hunters Syndrome (mucopolysaccharidosis)
Cinryze $350,000 Shire Hereditary Angioedema
Myozyme $300,000 Genzyme Glycogen Storage Disease (Pompe Disease)
Acthar $300,000 Mallinckrodt Infant seizures
Kalydeco $300,000 Vertex Rarest of Cystic Fibrosis mutations
Arcalyst $253,000 Regeneron Muckle Wells Syndrome

This article has 2 comments

  1. Dave Lerman

    Thanks for the feed back Williamwah. We hope to have much more great material going forward. Some free, some as part of our annual subscription. Enjoy your summer!

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