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How to Get Xeljanz at a Lower Cost

Written by Rebecca Farley | Reviewed by a licensed U.S. pharmacist | Posted Marzo 30, 2021

Xeljanz (tofacitinib) is nearly a household name, thanks to a few ubiquitous commercials. It is also — and, put a tin hat on me, I think these facts are connected — exceptionally expensive, running an average of $113 per tablet in the United States. Per month, Xeljanz can weigh as much as $3,500 on the wallet. The medication treats rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ulcerative colitis by suppressing the immune system. (These three conditions are all related to an overactive immune system.)

Saving money on Xeljanz is difficult given that the drug does not have a generic alternative. Drug coupons can shave a quarter or so off the drug’s steep price. PharmacyChecker-accredited pharmacies offer a healthier discount at 54% on Xeljanz. PharmacyChecker-accredited pharmacies sell the extended-release form of the drug at a 73% discount, a handsome alternative. One international online pharmacy also sells tofacitinib, the generic version of Xeljanz, which is currently unavailable at U.S. pharmacies due to a drug company patent on the brand name. Not to worry! You can order it from abroad with a prescription from your doc. This is by far the cheapest option at $120 per 30 tablets.

Comparing Xeljanz (tofacitinib) Prices

Drug  Strength  Quantity U.S. Average Retail Price U.S. Pharmacy Discount Card Price  Lowest International Pharmacy Price Greatest Percentage Discount
Xeljanz (tofacitinib)  10 mg 30 tablets $3,404.57 $2,417.84 $1,561.60 54%
Xeljanz XR (tofacitinib) 10 mg 30 tablets $6,582.09 $4,878.56 $1,779.33 73%
Tofacitinib (generic) 5 mg  30 tablets N/A N/A $120  N/A

U.S. average retail prices based on data from GoodRx. U.S. Discount Card prices based on price comparisons at brick and mortar pharmacies near the zip code 10605. 

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Why doesn’t Xeljanz have a generic alternative? 

Xeljanz doesn’t have a generic alternative available in the United States because of patent laws. In 2019, its parent company Pfizer sued a generic manufacturer for attempting to roll out tofacitinib. From the lawsuit itself:

seeking approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) to sell generic copies of Pfizer’s 5 mg Xeljanz® (tofacitinib) tablets (“Xeljanz 5 mg Tablets”) prior to the expiration of the ’027 and RE’783 patents.”

Thanks, Pfizer, for your COVID-19 vaccine, I guess?

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When did the FDA approve Xeljanz? 

The FDA first approved Xeljanz in 2012 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Five years later, the drug earned approvals for the treatment of ulcerative colitis and psoriatic arthritis. 

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Is Xeljanz safe to take? 

Safety trials indicate that a twice-daily dosage of Xeljanz increases risk of blood clots. The FDA does not recommend anyone currently on the medication cease their current routine. The medication is still under investigation. 

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Which is better: Xeljanz or Humira? 

At nearly $8,000 per two pens of medication, Humira (adalimumab) is nearly as expensive as Xeljanz, which can be a twice-daily medication. (At twice a day, Xeljanz would approach $8,000 per month.) Humira has a slightly different dosing regimen, with the first two doses taken eight days apart and the following doses separated by a fortnight. Humira also has its own side effect hangups. The medication is known to cause dangerous infections. From the label:

[Humira leads to] increased risk of serious infections leading to hospitalization or death, including tuberculosis (TB), bacterial sepsis, invasive fungal infections (such as histoplasmosis), and infections due to other opportunistic pathogens.”

Humira is a slightly older medication, having been approved in 2002.

In a head-to-head study funded by Pfizer (manufacturer of Xeljanz, mind you), researchers deemed the medications equally effective.

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Where is Xeljanz manufactured? 

Xeljanz sold in the U.S. is made in Ireland.

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Compare drug prices among reputable online pharmacies

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