Fact Checked

Why is Vyvanse So Expensive?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most common neuro developmental disorders in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 6.1 million children in America were diagnosed with the disease as of 2016. Approximately 75 percent of those with a diagnosis of ADHD receive either medical or behavioral treatment or both in order to manage their condition. However, ADHD does not just affect children; many children continue to suffer from the condition into adulthood, and some people are diagnosed with ADHD for the first time as adults. Vyvanse is a prescription medication that can provide relief from symptoms of ADHD, but it has been notoriously expensive in the past. So, how much does Vyvanse cost?

What is Vyvanse?

Vyvanse is a brand name stimulant medication and prescription drug that is taken once per day. It belongs to a class of drugs called central nervous system stimulants and is approved for use in children and adults over the age of six years old. Vyvanse is categorized as a Schedule II controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which means that it is under the highest level of control for a drug that can be obtained with a prescription from a physician. Schedule II controlled substances are defined  as drugs, substances, or chemicals with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs can be dangerous when misused, but do have accepted medical uses for certain conditions.

What is Vyvanse used to treat?

Vyvanse is approved for ADHD medication in adults and children over the age of six and moderate to severe binge eating disorder in adults. Vyvanse is most commonly used to treat ADHD, which impacts approximately 10 percent of children in the United States. Some other drugs that may help treat ADHD include Ritalin, Adderall (or Adderall xr), Amphetamine, Lisdexamfetamine, Dextroamphetamine, Methylphenidate and Concerta. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Most people are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, in childhood. ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that often causes some side effects or all of the following symptoms:

  • Daydreaming

  • Hyperactivity

  • Weightloss

  • Squirming or fidgeting

  • Difficulty paying attention

  • Difficult controlling impulsive behaviors

  • Forgetting or losing things regularly

  • Talking excessively

  • Difficulty getting along with others

  • Making careless mistakes

  • Difficulty resisting temptation

There are three different forms of ADHD: predominantly inattentive (previously known as Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD), predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation, and combined presentation. Patient’s presentation of ADHD and symptoms sometimes change throughout time, and the condition often lasts into adulthood. Although it is uncommon, some people are diagnosed with ADHD for the first time as adults. 

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States, although it has only been formally recognized in the DSM-5 since 2013. Binge eating disorder, sometimes referred to as BED, is a severe eating disorder that is characterized by repeated episodes of eating excessively large amounts of food in a short period of time, often to the point of discomfort. People with binge eating disorder typically experience a feeling of a loss of control during the binge and commonly experience guilt, distress, or shame after the episode. Unlike people with bulimia, people diagnosed with binge eating disorder do not use compensatory measures, such as purging, to counter their binge episode. 

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Why is Vyvanse so expensive?

Vyvanse is the third most popular central nervous system stimulant medication after Adderall and Ritalin, both of which have generic versions available. The expensive cost of Vyvanse - typically about $340 for 30 pills - is due in large part to the fact that the original manufacturer’s patent is not set to expire until 2023. Currently, no generic version of Vyvanse is available, and no generic will be allowed to enter the market without the manufacturer’s permission until 2023. The popularity of the drug, combined with the lack of competition in the form of a generic medication, results in high prices. Additionally, many people find that while alternative medications exist, Vyvanse works best for them, so demand for the drug remains high. Vyvanse is the first and only drug approved by the FDA specifically for the treatment of binge eating disorder, and because binge eating disorder affects approximately 2.8 million people in the United States, those seeking treatment of ADHD are likely to be prescribed Vyvanse. Although some medications, such as antidepressants, are used “off label” for the treatment of binge eating disorder, Vyvanse is the only drug approved by the FDA to treat the condition.

Can I purchase Vyvanse online?

Many people turn to online pharmacies with the hopes of saving money on expensive medications like Vyvanse, but those who are looking for the drug will be left disappointed. Due to its status as a Schedule II controlled substance, Vyvanse cannot be purchased online. You may come across websites offering Vyvanse for sale, but these pharmacies are not licensed or accredited and are likely providing counterfeit drugs. In order to get Vyvanse, you will need to visit your doctor and receive a written prescription for your medication that must then be taken to the pharmacy. Be wary of any online pharmacy that offers Vyvanse or other controlled substances, especially Ritalin and Adderall. Although you can’t purchase Vyvanse online, there are still other ways to save on your prescription.

How can I save money on my Vyvanse prescription?

Buying Vyvanse online might be an appealing option to save money, but the risks far outweigh the benefits. You don’t need to purchase counterfeit or stolen drugs to save on your medication, which is what you’ll likely be buying if you attempt to purchase Vyvanse online. No generic versions of Vyvanse will be available until at least 2023 unless the drug’s manufacturer chooses to provide rights to another manufacturer, so you won’t be able to find savings by choosing the generic drug. However, there are other ways to save.

Split Doses

Sometimes, the cost of various prescription strengths of a medication are very close, which means you may be able to request a higher dosage of the drug from your doctor and split your medication in half. For example, Vyvanse is available in 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg, and 60 mg strengths, so a person that is prescribed 30 mg could request a prescription for 60 mg pills and cut them in half, effectively doubling the amount of medication they have. This strategy only works for certain formulations of the drug, as capsules usually cannot be split in half, but it can be an effective way to save.

Coupons and Rebates

Because Vyvanse is a relatively new medication that is still under patent, discount cards or coupon programs are currently available through the manufacturer, Takeda. Coupon programs are available for the use of Vyvanse to treat adult ADHD, childhood ADHD, and binge eating disorder, and each coupon is slightly different. People who are eligible to use the coupons can pay as little as 30 dollars for the cost of the medication, but eligibility often hinges on having a commercial insurance plan that does not cover Vyvanse. Patients with public insurance coverage, such as Medicare and Medicaid, do not qualify for the Vyvanse savings program. In addition to the coupons offered on the manufacturer’s website, it is always worth asking your doctor if they know of any other discounts or coupon codes available. Doctors are often supplied coupons by drug representatives who drop off samples of the medication, so you might be able to find an even better deal. The manufacturer’s coupons for Vyvanse can be printed directly from the drug website or can be sent to your mobile device in order to be shown at the pharmacy counter. 

Patient Assistance Programs

Patient assistance programs differ from coupons and rebates in that they are designed specifically to provide payment assistance in the form of free or discounted medications to people who are low income, uninsured, or under-insured. Vyvanse has a patient assistance program that is offered by its manufacturer, Takeda. Patient assistance programs often have specific eligibility criteria that include limits on the amount of income earned each year, the type of insurance held, and the underlying health condition being treated by the medication. In general, Medicare and Medicaid recipients are not eligible for these programs; however, each patient assistance program has different criteria. Some patient assistance programs are available only for a set amount of time, such as six months, while others are good for the duration of the prescription, for new prescriptions only, or for patients taking the medication on a long-term basis. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s website to determine if you qualify for patient assistance.

Sources:

https://www.vyvanse.com/ 

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-148324/vyvanse-oral/details 

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/adderall/vs-vyvanse 

https://www.drugs.com/vyvanse.html 

https://www.additudemag.com/medication/vyvanse/ 

https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling 

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html 

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bed 

https://www.healthline.com/health/eating-disorders/binge-eating-disorder-statistics

Published August 1st, 2020 by Bridget Reed
Fact Checked by Chris Riley

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