How much does Lialda (mesalamine) cost, $25, $255 or $1,008?

Filed Under: Costs

A friend writes:

“What a PIA… I read that article back then… How much time do I spend researching this?

“Here it goes – Lialda 1.2g DR Tab – 120 tablets, generic mesalamine
$710 retail price at Costco, $324.80 with free coupon through GoodRx https://www.goodrx.com/lialda
$517 retail price at CVS, $346 with free coupon through GoodRx
$1000.24 (“Blink Everyday Low Price”) https://www.blinkhealth.com/lialda
$1008.85 – Aetna negotiated insurance – I am still under deductible – see attachment
I need to go find the cash price at Walgreens, but I bet it’s around $1000.

“Isn’t Aetna and CVS one now? Can’t Aetna negotiate with themselves to get a better price than their retail price?

I answered

Can you let me know what you find out and we can whip up a modest blog post?  And can you take screenshots of your searches? We find that quite often prices on GoodRx change. We have never documented that, but we do hear that people get a different price than what they expected, and if they don’t have a screenshot then it’s not always honored. OR Often not honored.

Also you might want to look at “patient assistance program” Lialda. You might qualify.

She answered

“Went to Walgreens. The retail price is $752, the price with Aetna insurance is $738 (which is lower than the price on Aetna’s website – probably because they only have the brand price on the website).

“Attached are screenshots on GoodRx and BlinkHealth.

“I decided to take the coupon to COSTCO for $324, but now I need to send the prescription there, so I left a voicemail with my doctor…. what a waste of time for them too.

“I don’t qualify for patient assistance.

“Please write this. I’m so annoyed!

Annnnnnd the answer is …

“The happy conclusion was that I got it from Costco for $255 through insurance. Yay! But the hassle of getting it and having to take time off work to research, go to pharmacies to get prices, call my doctor and deal with the prescription was a pain.

“After my doctor’s office sent the prescription, initially Costco told me they did not receive the prescription. The guy behind the counter told me they would get it right away and it’s not there… I had the hunch to not just throw my hands in the air and leave in a huff and asked if I can transfer the prescription from Walgreens… By the time I got to the second window, they got the prescription from my doctor (sent yesterday). I build software systems for a living and I know what it takes and I still think this is a terribly fucked up process.

“I’m totally confused about why Aetna couldn’t tell me which pharmacy near me has the best price. I don’t know why they have different prices for different pharmacies… One thing I know: they are not advocating for me, the patient.

“In the meantime, this same medication is $25 in Romania.

“As Casey says: we have the best healthcare system in the world, just don’t get sick!”