What is an overactive bladder?
Overactive bladder is a condition characterized by symptoms like incontinence (involuntary urination), frequent urination, or urgency in urination. Overactive bladder is more common in women, but it can happen in both sexes. Risk factors include things like diabetes, an enlarged prostate, or aging.
Treatment of overactive bladder can prevent related symptoms. Treatment options include things such as nerve stimulation, pelvic floor exercises, and medications. One such medication used to treat overactive bladder is Myrbetriq.
What is Myrbetriq?
Myrbetriq contains mirabgron, a drug classified as a beta-3 adrenergic agonist. It activates this receptor to relax the bladder’s smooth muscle, thus preventing frequent urination and incontinence. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Myrbetriq back in 2012 to treat those with overactive bladder. It is provided as an extended-release (ER) formulation, meaning your body releases the drug gradually over time.
It is also worth noting that Myrbetriq is also FDA-approved to treat neurogenic detrusor overactivity (NDO) in pediatrics. This bladder condition occurs as the result of other neurologic conditions.
How much is Myrbetriq?
The cost of Myrbetriq is dependent on your individual insurance plan and what it covers. If covered and if you have met your deductible, you likely will not pay more than 25 percent of what Myrbetriq costs. However, for those paying cash without insurance or whose insurance does not cover Myrbetriq, it goes for roughly $462 for a 30-day supply of tablets.
The steep of this medication may leave many wondering why it’s so expensive. In the rest of this article, we will deep-dive into why this is the case.
With a prescription, Americans can buy Myrbetriq online from Canada for $113.95 for 30 tablets.
There are several reasons why the cost of Myrbetriq is so high, as described below.
No generic available
Generic drugs are medications that are almost identical to the brand-name medication. This means that is has the same active ingredient, dosage form, strength, quality, safety, efficacy, route of administration, and indication as the brand-name drug. Because of these similarities, generics are bioequivalent to the brand name drug, meaning they work the same way and are of equal effectiveness.
The benefit of generic drugs is that they cost less than their respective brand name drug. This is because generic drugs do not have to undergo the same rigorous drug development studies in animals and humans that the brand name drug do. Likewise, generic mediations are expected to be 80 to 85 percent less on average compared with their brand name counterpart. In a report published by the IMS Health Institute, it was estimated that generic medications saved the United States’ healthcare system almost $2.2 trillion over a ten-year period.
Unfortunately, Myrbetriq is a brand-name drug, which explains its high cost. There are currently no generics available because of patents preventing generic drug development. As a result, a generic equivalent to Myrbetric may not be available until 2025 or later.
Patents and exclusivity
There are two things that may affect when a drug is able to be made as a generic: patents and exclusivity. Patents typically run for 20 years from when the patent application was filed and can be granted at any time during drug development. Exclusivity refers to blocking competitor drug approvals if the drug meets certain statutory requirements. Exclusivity periods depend on the type of drug and certain conditions it meets. For example, if the medication is an orphan drug indicated for a rare disease, it can have orphan drug exclusivity, which lasts for 7 years. Patents are not dependent on the drugs approval, while exclusivity is (7).
The patents and/or exclusivity of Myrbetriq are what prevent it from being made into a generic medication.
Drug development costs
So why does the pharmaceutical company that produces Myrbetriq charge so much in the first place? Well, drug development is very lengthy and expensive. Drugs must undergo extensive research in the lab, in animals, and then in humans over the course of several years. From Phase I studies, where the drug is first studied in humans, to regulatory approval by FDA, the average time of drug development is 10.5 years. This does not include the immense preclinical research done beforehand in the lab and in animals.
As you can imagine, the cost to run these studies and pay a pharmaceutical company’s employees during this time is astronomical. Not to mention, not all drugs get approved and marketed. Thus, there is always a chance that the company gets no return on its investment if a drug fails. In fact, this is more likely to happen than not. A drug starting in Phase I has less than an 8 percent chance of getting approval. Pharmaceutical companies thus must market and price their drugs in a way that can cover development of their whole pipeline, not just the drug itself.
Unregulated drug costs
Other developed countries have governments that regulate drug pricing. Despite being a developed country, the United States does not control the cost of drugs, meaning drug companies set the price at what they want. This results in high prices for many brand name prescription drugs.
How to get Myrbetriq for cheap
Factors such as drug development costs, patents, the lack of generics, and unregulated drug prices contribute to Myrbetriq’s lofty price. Thankfully, there are several options available that can make Myrbetriq more affordable. These include:
Patient assistance programs. There is a patient assistance program that can help subsidize cost for certain Myrbetriq patients.
Myrbetriq Momentum Savings Card. Astellas provides a savings card to certain individuals who are eligible, which could help you save as much as $70 per month.
Free samples from your healthcare provider. Many healthcare providers have free samples available for patients to try.