How can I cut costs on Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir)?

Answered by Rebecca Farley | Reviewed by a licensed U.S. pharmacist | Posted April 23, 2020

Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) is an expensive antiretroviral used to treat HIV with generic availability limited to an oral solution in the United States. No matter how you slice it-- brand name tablets or generic oral solution-- this lifeline medication is a financial strain on the uninsured. Just sixty tablets of brand Kaletra have an average U.S. retail price of $730. The lopinavir/ritonavir oral solution runs around $490 in the U.S. for 80mg/20 mg/mL. The cheapest bet is to order the generic tablet from an online pharmacy, one that is accredited, because despite the patent pending in the U.S., it’s fortunately available to order from abroad for $64.98. That’s 91% off the U.S. brand Kaletra. Such steep savings may seem unbelievable. PharmacyChecker encourages patients to become savvy consumers of healthcare and read why brand drug prices in the U.S. are so high.

 

 

What is the difference between the oral solution and the tablets?

Oral solutions, as far as prescription drugs go, are generally used for pediatric patients, or people, including adults, who may struggle swallowing tablets. The only disadvantage to oral solutions relate to proper measurement: The consumer, who is not a pharmacist, is suddenly tasked with measuring their own medication. People can get this right, however, and the oral solution will work as intended. However, it’s not as easy to properly take as a bottle of properly-formulated tablets.

 

Pharmacist Tip: Always ask for a pharmacist consultation at your local pharmacy if you are new to a medication and unsure on how to measure your dose. Your pharmacist may also provide you with a measuring tool to help you make sure you take the right dose every time.

Lopinavir/ritonavir Coronavirus Treatment Is Not Proven

The coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic has led to increased interest in lopinavir/ritonavir because previous studies of the drug suggested it could treat SARS and MERS viruses. If it can treat SARS, the thinking goes, then perhaps it can also treat SARS-COV-2, the novel coronavirus. However, a March 2020 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the drug did not appear to have a salutary effect on coronavirus patients.

 

See: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Warnings on Potential Treatments

Will the interest in lopinavir/ritonavir affect availability of the drug?

By now, you may have heard that the antimalarial drug chloroquine phosphate is suffering from shortages as doctors and pharmacists try to obtain the drug for COVID-19 treatment. (Chloroquine phosphate may have a beneficial effect on those infected with COVID-19.) AbbVie pharmaceuticals released a statement claiming the company would prevent supply shortages from happening to lopinavir/ritonavir, which is an essential HIV medication.

 

“While helping respond to the COVID-19 crisis is a high priority, the company is committed to protecting the supply of Kaletra/Aluvia for HIV patients. AbbVie is actively assessing the increased demand for Kaletra/Aluvia and has taken steps to increase supply for COVID-19 patients without impacting treatment supply for HIV patients.”

 

Alert: As of April 9th, 2020, PharmacyChecker has received confirmation from a supplier that Kaletra is currently on backorder. Unfortunately, the supplier was not able to provide an availability date at this time.

Where can I find the cheapest lopinavir/ritonavir?

Barring any backorders, the least expensive lopinavir/ritonavir can be found at international pharmacies. The generic tablets cost about 91% less abroad than the brand name tablets at a domestic pharmacy.

 

Comparing Lopinavir/Ritonavir Prices

Drug (generic name) Strength quantity Average U.S. Retail Pharmacy Price PharmacyChecker U.S. Discount Card Price Lowest International Pharmacy Price Greatest Percentage Savings
Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) 200 mg/50 mg 60 tablets $730.65 $508.62 $229.70 69%
Lopinavir/ritonavir (generic) 200 mg/50 mg 60 tablets Unavailable due to limited U.S. data N/A $64.98 91% off the U.S. brand price
Kaletra Oral Solution (lopinavir/ritonavir) 80mg/20 mg/mL $639.36 N/A $473.70 (domestic shipping within Canada only as must be refrigerated) N/A
Lopinavir/ ritonavir (generic oral solution) 80mg/20 mg/mL $489.35 N/A N/A N/A

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

I don’t want to order from an international pharmacy. How can I get lopinavir/ritonavir cheaper in the U.S.?

AbbVie pharmaceuticals, the company behind the drug, administers a Kaletra savings card which, according to its website, can provide as much as $400 in savings per month. If you have no or limited health insurance coverage, you might look to the Ryan White HIV/AIDs program, which has a separate department for people struggling to pay for their medications. On top of that, the country has a network of AIDs Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) which help patients with prescription drug copays. Find a local ADAP at the ADAP directory here.

Is Aluvia the same as Kaletra?

In the European market, Kaletra goes by the name Aluvia, both of which are manufactured by AbbVie. Drugs commonly have different names overseas; the drug Livalo goes by Alipza in Turkey. This is a marketing detail and does not mean the drug is any different abroad.

Why are there two names in this drug?

Because the drug contains two active pharmaceutical ingredients, lopinavir and ritonavir. This combination drug is part of the protease inhibitor class. It works by lowering the amount of HIV that is in the blood. Ritonavir helps make lopinavir more effective when they are taken in combination.Ritonavir is also sold separately as the drug, norvir.

Where is Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) manufactured?

According to its label, lopinavir/ritonavir sold in the U.S. is manufactured in Puerto Rico and Germany.

 

 

Learn more about drug prices and Canadian online pharmacy safety

How can I determine where a drug is manufactured?

Can a pharmacy fill a prescription early?

How and where can I buy prescription medication without a prescription?

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