Pharma Tactic: Combine Two Cheap Drugs Into An Expensive One

Vimovo is a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. (In case you’re wondering what that third condition is, it’s an illness where your spinal vertebrae fuse, become less flexible, and you develop a hunched over posture). Vimovo is a combination drug, containing two older, generic medications; naproxen and esomeprazole. According to drug pricing website, a three month supply of Vimovo costs somewhere in the range of $3300 depending on the pharmacy. The kicker is that if you have to take this medication, you can do it much more cheaply.

Vimovo comes in strengths of 375mg/20mg and 500mg/20mg. If you were to buy its component drugs and taken them separately, essentially taking two pills instead of one, you could save a significant amount of money for very little additional work. With a valid prescription you can get a three month supply of Naproxen 375mg from Canada Drugs for $33.12. You can also get a three month supply of Esomeprazole 20mg for $82.59. That’s a total of $115.71, a savings of up to 97%. Just for taking two tablets instead of one!

If that’s shocking to you it’s understandable. However you should know that this is a common pharma strategy of creating “new” drugs out of old ones. It eliminates the need for lengthy and costly research while still being able to patent the “new” drugs and charge huge prices for them. Not all combination drugs can or should be taken as separate medications though. Some formulations are not designed for that. If you take a combination drug, or have been prescribed one, consult your physician or pharmacist to see if it’s safe to take the medication as its separate components. Your pharmacist will be able to tell if you if there are any possible savings in doing it that way. Asking could save you a lot of money in the long run.


* Prices as of July 5, 2017. Product availability and prices subject to change without notice. Actual savings may vary. All Trade-Mark (TM) rights associated with the brand name products shown in this advertisement belong to their respective owners. Generic drugs are carefully regulated medications that have the same medicinal ingredients as the original brand name drug, but which are generally cheaper in price. They undergo comparative testing to ensure that they are equal to their “brand” counterparts in: Active Ingredient; Dosage; Safety; Strength; Quality; Performance and Intended use. Generic Equivalent may vary in: Color; Shape; Size; Cost and Appearance.

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