The Five Most Expensive Medications in the World

People who have a fair amount of experience with the healthcare system will be familiar with the fact that medications can get very expensive. The exact reasons are both numerous and wide-ranging in nature. For example, some countries give pharmaceutical companies more freedom to set their own prices, thus resulting in them setting the highest prices that the market is willing to take. Likewise, most people are willing to pay a lot of money for medication, not least because in a fair number of cases, having that medication is a matter of life or death. Regardless of the exact reasons, it is clear that medications can get very expensive, though there are some examples that outstrip even the bulk of their counterparts.

Here are five of the most expensive medications that can be found in the entire world:

5. Cinryze – $350,000 per year

Angioedema is when the lower layer of skin swells up, which can happen in various parts of the human body such as the face, the tongue, the limbs, and the abdomen. Generally speaking, most people will associate it with hives, which is when the upper layer of skin swells up. This is because angioedema is often caused by an allergic reaction. With that said, it is important to note that angioedema can have other causes, with excellent example being the three inherited forms of the problem. Angioedema can have a wide range of symptoms. For example, there can be pain, itchiness, and even a loss of sensation in the affected area, which is caused by the compression of the local nerves. Furthermore, the problem can affect the throat, which is something that can lead to death if help is not provided. Cinryze is a medication that can be used to treat the inherited forms of angioedema, but it should be mentioned that it costs $350,000 on an annual basis.

4. Naglazyme – $365,000 per year

Naglazyme refers to the enzyme called Arylsulfatase B, which can be used to treat Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome. Said disorder affects the connective tissues, meaning that patients can end up with dwarfism as well as other serious issues such as brain problems and heart problems. On an annual basis, Naglazyme can cost more than $365,000.

3. Elaprase – $500,000 per year

Hunter Syndrome is one of a number of genetic disorders that affect the function of the lysosomes, which are sacks of enzymes stored in cells that are responsible for breaking down large molecules so that the resulting pieces can be passed on to other components in the cells. Said genetic disorder is serious because it can cause abnormalities in a number of organs, which can kill the patient by their teenage years. Elaprase is a medication for Hunter Syndrome that costs more than $500,000 on an annual basis.

2. Soliris – up to $700,000 per year

There was a point in time when Soliris was the most expensive medication in the entire world at between $440,000 and $700,000 on an annual basis. However, it has since been overtaken. Regardless, Soliris is used to treat something called paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, which is when a part of the human immune system starts going after the red blood cells while they are circulating throughout the human body in the blood vessels. There is actually a cure for paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, but said cure is not particularly sought-after because it comes with a significant chance of death as well as post-treatment complications.

1. Glybera – $1.2 million per year

Lipoprotein lipase deficiency occurs when a person inherits a defective gene for lipoprotein lipase from both their father and their mother. It causes much higher than normal triglycerides, which in turn, can cause a series of serious medical issues such as diabetes, liver problems, and pancreas problems. Generally speaking, lipoprotein lipase deficiency has to be managed by cutting down fat intake to no more than 20g on a daily basis. However, Glybera can help out as well provided that interested individuals in the European Union are willing to pay something along the lines of $1.2 million on an annual basis. Perhaps unsurprisingly, its maker has stated that it won’t be seeking a renewal for Glybera’s marketing authorization in the European Union, though it is important to mention that it had a very small potential market in the first place because there are no more than 1,200 people in the European Union who have the genetic disorder that it treats.


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