How Much Does Eucrisa Cost?
Dr. Angel Rivera
The National Eczema Association estimates that approximately 31.6 million Americans, or more than 10 percent of the population, suffers from some form of eczema. Although there are seven different types of eczema, the most common is atopic dermatitis, a severe form of the condition that is also chronic. More than 16.5 million adults and 9.6 million children in the United States are affected by atopic dermatitis, and about 85 percent of them experience the itching and irritation associated with the condition every day. Atopic dermatitis and eczema are more than just uncomfortable conditions; they can also impact self esteem and self confidence, impact sleep, and cause other symptoms. Patients seeking relief may have heard about a new drug on the market called Eucrisa that promises relief for atopic dermatitis, but how much does Eucrisa cost?
What is Eucrisa?
Eucrisa (crisaborole) is a topical cream that belongs to a class of medications called phosphodiesterase inhibitors. Medications in this class block one or more of the five subtypes of phosphodiesterase (PDE). Specifically, Eucrisa is a PDE-4 inhibitor. Eucrisa is a nonsteroidal medication that helps to prevent inflammation of the skin associated with eczema, and it was first approved under Pfizer by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2016 for use in patients aged two and older. The medication does not contain any steroids and has no added fragrances. Additionally, it is paraben free and contains no animal by-products.
What is Eucrisa used to treat?
Eucrisa is used for the treatment of eczema, which is a general term describing inflammation of the skin. While there are seven different types of eczema, Eucrisa is used to treat atopic dermatitis, which is a chronic and severe form of eczema. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there are slightly different triggers and symptoms associated with atopic dermatitis than other forms of eczema.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema, affecting approximately 16.5 million adults and 9.6 million children in the United States alone. It is unknown exactly what causes atopic dermatitis, but scientists do understand that something causes the immune system to become overactive without cause. When the immune system becomes reactive, it triggers inflammation in the skin that can cause it to become dry, experience rashes and itching, and undergo discolorations. Because the inflammation is usually itchy, the natural tendency is to scratch at the skin, but unfortunately, this only makes the inflammation worse and causes further damage. Symptoms of atopic dermatitis include:
- Itchy skin
- Sore or painful skin
- Poor sleep due to itching
- Rashes that ooze, weep fluid, or bleed when scratched
- Dry or discolored skin
- Thickening or hardening of the skin due to scratching
It is believed that atopic dermatitis is largely influenced by genetics, but environmental factors may also play an important role. Most people begin experiencing symptoms of atopic dermatitis as infants or young children, and the condition often runs in families. Flares can be triggered by a number of factors, including:
- Irritants in skin care products or other personal care products
- Poor sleep
- Extreme heat or cold or sudden changes in weather
- Certain fabrics
How does Eucrisa work?
Scientists are not sure exactly how Eucrisa works to treat atopic dermatitis, but they do know that the medication works on the PDE4 enzyme. The PDE4 enzyme is partially responsible for regulating levels of inflammation in the body, and people with atopic dermatitis and other forms of eczema may have overactive PDE4 enzymes. Eucrisa works by blocking PDE4 enzymes within the skin cells from becoming overactive, which helps to reduce inflammation that is associated with eczema. As inflammation diminishes, symptoms of itchiness, pain, and soreness subside.
How much does Eucrisa cost?
Because Eucrisa was only recently approved by the FDA for use in the United States, no generic forms of the medication are available at this time. Unfortunately, this keeps prices elevated because the drug manufacturer holds a patent on the drug and uses this period to recoup the money spent on research and development of the medication, marketing, and more. The manufacturer of Eucrisa does offer a Eucrisa copay savings card and Eucrisa coupons that allows eligible patients with a commercial insurance plan that does not cover Eucrisa to pay 100 dollars per prescription drug; eligible patients with commercial insurance that covers Eucrisa can have their copays further reduced to as low as ten dollars per prescription including refills. However, for patients who do not have Medicare or private health insurance, the costs of the medication are astronomical - up to 980 dollars per tube. Certainly, that puts Eucrisa out of reach of the vast majority of patients without health insurance. Fortunately, pharmacy discount card programs like USA Rx offer savings to all patients on all FDA-approved brand name and generic drugs regardless of their insured status. With USA Rx, Eucrisa would cost approximately 120 dollars for cardholders. There is no eligibility criteria for pharmacy discount card programs, and registration is free and does not require personal information.
What are the benefits of Eucrisa?
Eucrisa is considered highly effective for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. A clinical trial conducted with over 1500 participants between the ages of 2 and 79 found that 32 percent of those treated with Eucrisa achieved clear or nearly clear skin during the study period, as opposed to people using a non-medicated version of the cream. Results can be seen in as little as eight days for some people, although most saw results by the 28 day mark.
What are the side effects of Eucrisa?
The common side effects associated with Eucrisa are burning or stinging at the application site. This burning or stinging is due largely to the inflammation and damage to the affected skin, and it tends to improve over time as the breakout clears.
Serious allergic reactions to Eucrisa have been known to occur. Allergic reactions have occurred at or near the application site; symptoms include hives, swelling, redness or itching. Patients who notice any of these symptoms should stop using Eucrisa immediately and seek medical attention.
How do I use Eucrisa?
Eucrisa is a topical cream and is easy to apply. Patients should apply a thin layer of the cream twice daily to the affected area and should use the medication as directed by their healthcare provider or per their medical advice. After applying Eucrisa, wash your hands unless your hands are being treated with the medication. If another person applies Eucrisa for you, they should wash their hands after applying the cream. Eucrisa is for topical treatment use only and should not be ingested or applied to the eyes or genitals.
Can women who are pregnant or breastfeeding take Eucrisa?
At the present time, not enough research has been conducted on Eucrisa to determine if it is safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding to use. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should talk to their doctors before using Eucrisa to determine if the benefits of using the medication outweigh the risks. Similarly, it is not known if Eucrisa passes through breastmilk. Women who are nursing should speak to their healthcare providers before using Eucrisa to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks.
Can Eucrisa be used on children?
Eucrisa is a nonsteroidal cream that is FDA-approved and safe for children as young as three months old with atopic dermatitis. The medication is only for topical use, but it can be used on the face, hands, feet, or any other external part of the body that suffers from servers or moderate eczema. Approximately four percent of clinical trial participants two years of age and up experienced burning or stinging on the application site, but this pain resolved itself within a day for 78 percent of patients. It can be difficult to keep children on a medication schedule, so it is recommended to apply Eucrisa at the same time each morning and evening as part of a child’s daily routine.
In addition to using Eucrisa, there are other ways to manage your child’s eczema. Eczema management strategies for children include:
- Avoiding situations where a child may get sweaty and overheat
- Avoiding cold, dry air
- Using laundry detergents that are free of preservatives, fragrances, and dyes
- Avoiding scented dryer sheets or fabric softener
- Bathing in warm water instead of hot water
- Taking short baths or showers of just five to ten minutes
- Applying moisturizer to damp skin immediately after bathing
- Bathing a maximum of one time per day
- Skipping bubble baths or fragrant soaps
- Washing new clothes before use
- Speaking to your child’s teachers to help them understand what your child may be experiencing and how to help.