The tragic story of a teacher from Texas who died of the flu after she declined to pay $116 for antiviral medication is bringing attention to drug prices. Doctors prescribe Tamiflu and its generic version to help lessen the severity of the flu, but even with doctor’s orders some people can’t afford to get their prescription filled.
The average retail price of Tamiflu is $140 according to the consumer website GoodRx. The generic version’s not much better at $135. That’s not attainable for many people.
“The co-pay for that school teacher was just unreal,” Loretta Rasnick of Greensboro told us. “I don’t think the Tamiflu should be no more co-pay than $30, $35 max for everyone,” she said.
Local pharmacists tell us, most people with insurance have a co-pay between $10 and $65 for the drug. But if you’re faced with a huge bill for Tamiflu or the generic that your doctor has prescribed -- there are options.
GoodRx.com offers coupons for the generic version of Tamiflu. WFMY News 2 called and found that several local pharmacies including Harris Teeter, Walmart and Walgreens accept the coupon. The deal can cut the cash price by as much as $102 leaving you to pay less than $60. The amount comes off of the retail price and is not discounted from your insurance co-pay.
Although they help, antiviral drugs are not considered a cure the flu.
Infectious disease expert at Wake Forest Baptist Health, Dr. Christopher Ohl, says the medication can be very helpful or even life-saving to several groups of people.
“Most of the time those are people who are very old, or people who have several underlying medical conditions, or those who have the flu that’s so severe they have to be hospitalized. For that group there’s pretty good information now that some of those people will survive or have shorter hospitalizations or less trouble during the worse period,” said Dr. Ohl.
But for most people, Tamiflu will just cut a day or two off of a week-long illness.
Remember, you need to begin taking it within 48 hours of the first signs of fever, aching and coughing.