The High Cost of Beauty Just Got Higher

high price of prescription sOver the past few months I  have been hearing  reports of the soaring  costs  of prescription skin care products.  For example I have received emails from readers about  the heart-stopping prices for  Retin A Micro( for anti-aging), BenzaClin ( for acne)  and Finacea ( for rosacea). In some cases the prices  have jumped as much as  400%. At first I thought it was  just a mistake or  an out of control pharmacy.  Actually that would  have been good news.  A little  research revealed   that insanely high prices for older drugs  are an all too common problem these days.

Three years ago, 45 gram tube of Retin A  Micro was $300.   Today, a 20 gram tube- about  half the size- is $450.BenzaClin, a combination of clindamycin  and benzoyl peroxide is $380, a rise of more than 200% over the past five years.  Even worse the generic forms are  often not available or  not that much less expensive. WTF is going on?

The Ugly Truth About The High Price of Beauty

These increases seem to be happening  when an old drug gets a new owner.  It is  such a  troubling problem, that Federal  prosecutors are  looking into collusion  between companies that sell sell branded products and those that sell the generic version. In the case of  Retin A  Micro,  it was sold  to Valeant, a giant pharmaceutical company that also sells  BenzacCin.  As these issues wind their way throught the courts, there are creative ways to get  prescription  products at a fair price.

Winning the Retin A Price Game

Retin A  Micro is a genuinely effective anti-aging tool, but I refuse to hand over fees that verge on extortion  After  talking to pharmacists I discovered a range of much more affordable  options:

– Branded Retin A Micro .04% ( 20 grams) — $450

–  Generic  Retin A Micro .04% ( 20 grams) — $300

–  Branded Retin A .05% ( 20 grams) — $180

–  Generic Retin A .05% ( 20 grams) –$110 ( now we’re talking)

Retin A Micro, is less irritating to the skin.  But  with three little tips  you can get the same results with the least expensive generic option Retin A:

  1. When starting Retin A, apply 2-3x/week and gradually work up to  using a pea sized dab every night
  2. Apply  your moisturizer first and then dot on  and massage in Retin A
  3. If you have sensitive skin you can also mix a pea size dab of generic Retin A with the same size dab of moisturizer.  This will effectively dilute  the generic Retin A to .025%.  You can use  this  for several  weeks until you build up  a tolorance  to the wonderful anti-ager.

Beating the High Cost of  Acne Care

A combination of  clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide is a first line treatment  for  mild to  moderate acne.  It  is also used in combination with Retin A to curb the dreaded “purge”.  When starting Retin A, the acne seems to get wrse before it gets better.  Adding  a clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide  combo can prevent or at least lessen the”purge”.

Three years ago,  Benzaclin( a combo of 1% clindamycin and 5% benzoyl peroxide) was around $120.  At my neighborhood pharmacy  its now   $338 for 25 grams.  The larger size is almost $500.  A generic version is $150– when you can find it.  But   wait, there’s an even better option.  You can get the same medication by purchasing  the two  ingredients separately. The generic form of Clindamycin  pads is $49 for a two month supply.  And  you can get 2.5% or 5%  benzoyl peroxide  gel for $8.   Your total   is now  $57 — a vast improvement on $338.

The key to getting the best prices on  skin care products starts with the way your doctor writes the prescription.  Make certain he specifies the right size of the  generic forms of the medications  If your pharmacy  says. they don’t have it, go to another pharmacy.

One final thought- The astonishing price  rise in older medications is not limited  to skin care products.  Prices  for older drugs including those  used  for  cancer, ulcerative  colitis, and during surgery have  also soared into triple digets.   Recently  the price of an essential AIDs drug  leaped  from $13  to $750 per dose  when it was sold to a entrepreneur  who apparently did not have  a conscience.  These excesses have led to  legal  challenges from a number of  authorities.  The FTC is investigating  more than 8  pharmaceutical  companies and  Senators from Iowa and   Minnisota have introduced  much needed regulatory legislation.

Let me know if your prescriptions have  more than doubled recently  and I will try to  help you find affordable alternatives.  I  believe that the entreprennurial  spirit is part of the fiber of our country but IMHO there  should be a special room in hell  for those that drastically  raise the price of older drugs that  save lives and relieve  suffering.  Just saying.


7 thoughts on “The High Cost of Beauty Just Got Higher

  1. Thank you so much for the comments on the prices of drugs. I completely agree with you the lack of conscience of many of manufacturers. Once again thanks for your feedback

  2. Wow! I find this both fascinating and horrible. I live in Ontario Canada and use both retin a and tactuo (adapaline with benzoyl peroxide). The cost is nowhere near what our neighbours in the US are forced to pay.
    My retin a (30 g ) cost $13.90 plus 11.84 dispensing fee for a total of $25.74. With my companys benefit plan I paid $8.90
    The tactuo (70 g ) cost 114.78, plus fee for a total of $126.62, again with my insurance the cost was 49.25
    The prices you guys have to pay are outrageous. My heart goes out to anyone suffering with acne who can’t afford prescriptions. Good luck to you all with trying to bring down costs.

    • I had no idea of the huge difference in price in Canada. It makes me even angrier–if that’s possible. What is so outrageous is that these are old even generic drugs. I will be posting new ways to get affordable prescriptions.

  3. I just purchased a tube of Tazorac (retin A) 0.1% and paid about $60 Canadian. That would be about $45 US. I’ve seen various websites which say this is OTC in Canada which it is not. I understand there are a number of reputable Canadian pharmacies that ship to the US as long as you have a valid prescription. Just be careful it isn’t a company from India or elsewhere that tries to make you believe they are in Canada. A good tip off is if there are grammatical errors on the website

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