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How can the uninsured save money on Albenza (albendazole)?

Answered by Rebecca Farley | Reviewed by a licensed U.S. pharmacist | Posted June 11, 2020
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With an average price of almost $600 for just two tablets, albendazole (brand name Albenza) is one of the more expensive anti-parasitics. Fortunately, the drug can be found for much cheaper at international pharmacies. The brand name can be found for a 98% discount. Such drastic discounts can look suspicious, but don’t worry. There are many reasons why drugs are way less expensive abroad than they are in the United States. To top it off, brand name Albenza sold in the U.S. is actually made in Canada, so it’s likely that if you order from a Canadian pharmacy, you would be getting the same exact medication that you would in your local U.S. pharmacy -- just 98% cheaper.

For a drug that has been in use for decades, albendazole is radically expensive. Usually, introduction of a generic leads to a lower price, especially after multiple drug manufacturers start producing it and competing. But, unusually, albendazole’s U.S. prices have been rising. The story goes that Amedra Pharmaceuticals purchased the right to sell albendazole from GlaxoSmithKline in 2010, immediately bumping the price, according to the New York Times, from $6 to $120 per tablet.

 

If you don’t want to purchase drugs from overseas, or the current delays in shipping are discouraging you, the PharmacyChecker Discount Card can also provide you a hefty discount without even leaving your neighborhood. Our U.S. discount card helps Americans save around 74% off regular albenzazole prices. Not too shabby!

 

Get U.S. Pharmacy Discounts

 

Comparing Albendazole (Albenza) Prices

Drug Strength Quantity U.S. Average Retail Price PharmacyChecker U.S. Discount Price Lowest Accredited International Pharmacy Price Greatest Percentage Savings
Albenza (albendazole) 200mg 2 tablets $579.83 $482.45 $10.49 98%
Albendazole (generic name) 200mg 2 tablets $441.88 $115.55 $1.63 99.6%

Sources: Average U.S. Retail Price calculated based on pricing on GoodRx.com. PharmacyChecker U.S. Discount Card Price based on availability at pharmacies near New Orleans, Louisiana. Lowest Accredited International Pharmacy Price based on prices listed on PharmacyChecker.com.

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What is albendazole?

Albendazole treats a few separate conditions caused by parasites. According to the Mayo Clinic, these conditions are: neurocysticercosis, cystic hydatid, and enterobiasis. Pork tapeworms cause neurocysticercosis (as well as taeniasis, a less severe infection of the intestines) while dog tapeworms cause cystic hydatid. Pinworms are most common in children, and tend to spread in places children congregate, like daycare centers. Albendazole works by cutting off the worms’ supply of glucose in order to starve them out of the patient’s body.

 

Neurocysticercosis occurs when pork tapeworms, scientific name Taenia solium, infect the central nervous system, resulting in seizures. Taeniasis, caused by the same worm, occurs when the tapeworms take root in the intestines.

 

According to the World Health Organization, a three-day treatment of Albendazole 400mg can be used to treat both conditions, although neurocysticercosis can require additional therapies to treat the resultant epilepsy. Cystic hydatid, also known as echinococcosis, results in cysts most commonly found on the liver and lungs. Albendazole can be used in treatment, but it is usually taken in combination with more drastic measures, such as surgery. The CDC says surgery is the most direct way to cure the disease fully; anti-parasitic treatments are to be used as a prophylaxis during the recovery.

 

Lastly, the drug can be used to treat pinworms, which is, according to the CDC, the “most common worm infection in the United States.” Treatment for pinworms is usually two tablets of albendazole.

Is there a generic form?

Yes. The FDA approved a generic form of albendazole in 2018 for “treatment of parenchymal neurocysticercosis due to active lesion caused by larval forms of the pork tapeworm, Taenia solium.”

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Why is albendazole so expensive?

Critics of Big Pharma have used albendazole as a rallying cry, pointing out that the pharmaceutical company can all too easily make a previously accessible drug prohibitively expensive. Jeremy Greene, in his book Generic: The Unbranding of American Medicine, compared the case of albendazole to that of Daraprim, the drug purchased in 2015 by Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli’s company. Turing raised the price of Daraprim (pyrimethamine) from $13.50 per tablet to $730, multiplying the price by more than 50.

 

Nadia Whitehead, writing for NPR, pointed out that albendazole has few competitors in the market, arguing that generic drug companies have little to no incentive to manufacture a drug for diseases which may be rare in the U.S. Albendazole does not treat a chronic condition, which means patients only need two tablets. Which is all to say, this is not a drug that will bring profit to drug companies -- unless the company increases the price.

What are the side effects of albendazole?

According to the FDA, albendazole has been known to cause “bone marrow suppression, aplastic anemia, and agranulocytosis in patients with and without underlying hepatic dysfunction.” Luckily, with this type of medication, frequent consults with a doctor, especially in the case of neurocysticercosis, are the norm.

 

General side effects of albendazole include:

 

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Stomach Pain

  • Headache

  • Hair loss that is reversible

  • Dizziness

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Where are Albenza and albendazole manufactured?

Packaging of generic albendazole sold in the U.S. indicates it is manufactured in India. Brand name Albenza sold in the U.S. is manufactured in Canada.

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