Most Popular Arthritis Medications
high drug prices
If you’re living with the daily realities of arthritis, you’re certainly not alone. Nearly 25% of Americans — about 54 million people — have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis.
Arthritic pain can be debilitating. As many as 60% of people diagnosed with arthritis are of working age (ages 18-64), and 8 million of those adults say that their arthritis affects their ability to work.
In fact, this is such a severe problem that it’s considered a leading cause of work disability, amounting to annual costs of about $303.5 billion. (Yes, billion with a B.) Included in this assessment are medical costs such as doctor’s visits, treatments, and prescriptions, in addition to lost productivity and wages.
As one might imagine, the prominence of the condition and the debilitating effects it can have on a person’s life and livelihood have prompted research into the creation of multiple medications, as well as a lot of research into how to improve people’s quality of life. The good news is that advances in medicine have allowed for more effective medication with fewer side effects to be developed.
Here’s a look into how arthritis affects the body and what popular medications are being used to treat it.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a chronic condition in which inflammation occurs in a person’s joints. Typically, this inflammation leads to pain and stiffness, which gets worse over time. Age is often listed as a factor, but the fact of the matter is that use is a factor, and the older we are, the most likely we are to have used our joints to their fullest potential.
As the statistics show, there is a significant number of people affected by arthritis who are still of working age, and plenty of those people are well below the age of retirement. So it’s fair to say that age can be a factor, but that it’s not the only factor.
There are multiple factors that increase the chances of someone developing arthritis (in addition to age, of course), including family medical history, weight (the heavier you are, the harder it is on your joints), sex (women are more likely to develop arthritis), and previous injuries to joints.
There are many types of arthritis, including ankylosing spondylitis, gout, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, septic arthritis, and thumb arthritis. However, the most common types are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the lining of the joints (synovial membrane). This causes swelling and inflammation, which leads to pain. Because it’s under attack, your body’s immune response goes to work, which doesn’t help matters, since your immune system is what’s doing this damage to begin with.
As the disease progresses, it can destroy the cartilage in the joint, making it extraordinarily painful to use, if the person can use it at all. If it progresses far enough, it can even affect the bones surrounding the joints.
Osteoarthritis is the type of arthritis that is use-caused. This form of arthritis is a result of overuse or simply wear-and-tear. For example, a hair stylist may develop arthritis in their wrists from repetitive motion. Someone who types for a living may develop arthritis in their hands or wrists.
Cartilage is the substance that allows joints to move fluidly, but as damage is done to the cartilage, the bones get closer together and cause you more pain during movement. Eventually, the bones may rub together, which can severely restrict movement, and therefore mobility.
While osteoarthritis affects the joint lining (like rheumatoid arthritis), its effects don’t stop there. The entire joint, all connecting tissue, and even the bones can be damaged by osteoarthritis.
While arthritis might not be curable, there are plenty of ways to treat it and help people live healthier, more active lives. Here are three of the most popular and effective arthritis medications on the market today.
Best Prescription Arthritis Medication
Celebrex (celecoxib) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (commonly described as an NSAID) approved to treat both chronic arthritis pain and acute pain caused by an injury. Most NSAIDs directly affect one (or two) very specific enzymes in the body: COX-1 (cyclo-oxygenase) and/or COX-2. These enzymes are responsible for producing a substance called prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins are lipids produced at the site of physical damage or infection to help the body heal. These lipids regulate inflammation, blood flow to the site, blood clotting when necessary, and even the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However, arthritis can cause the body’s immune system to go into an over-productive state because it’s constantly fighting inflammation.
Therefore, NSAIDs are designed to suppress the immune response coming from these two enzymes. However, doing so affects the body’s natural production of prostaglandins, and since prostaglandins support GI health, inhibiting them can cause GI trouble.
An important distinction here is the difference in what COX-1 enzymes do versus what COX-2 enzymes do. COX-1 enzymes very specifically protect the GI tract, as well as control clotting via platelet production. COX-2 enzymes are more targeted toward the immune response, sending prostaglandins to the site of an injury or inflammation.
What makes Celebrex so popular (and ground-breaking) is that it is a selective COX-2 inhibitor, which means it isn’t affecting the GI tract to the extent that a regular NSAID would. While Celebrex will still affect the COX-1 enzyme, most people report that it’s easier on their digestive systems.
In the United States, you can expect to pay a cash price of $315.00 for a 30-day supply at the 100 mg dose. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we sell Celebrex for about $75.00 for a 60-day supply. That’s a savings of about 88% over the course of two months.
For generic celecoxib, cash prices in the U.S. are far more affordable than the name brand — you’re looking at about $20.00 per month. Even so, the price at NorthWestPharmacy.com is only $35.00 for a 60-day supply. The savings isn’t as dramatic as it would be for the brand name drug, but you’re still saving money.
Colcrys (colchicine) is an anti-inflammatory that is often prescribed for a specific kind of arthritis called gout. Gout is caused by excessive uric acid in the blood, which crystallizes and settles in joints — most often in the big toe.
Because Colcrys is not an NSAID pain reliever, it’s often prescribed for patients who are unable to take medication in that class. NSAIDs can increase some people’s risk of heart disease, specifically people who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, as well as people who smoke.
NSAIDs can also increase the risk of stomach ulcers or bleeding, so they’re typically not recommended for people who have existing stomach issues or a history of ulcers, people taking multiple medications that already include NSAIDs, are on blood thinners, are moderate-to-heavy drinkers, or are senior citizens.
It’s also important to remember that while symptoms for gout and rheumatoid arthritis are similar, they are not the same condition and will not be treated in the same fashion.
In the United States, a 30-day supply of Colcrys will cost about $275.00. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we sell it for about $243.00. Bear in mind that prices are affected by availability of inventory as well as the cost of drug production and transport. As the coronavirus pandemic is creating drug shortages and raising the costs of drugs worldwide, the current global climate isn’t doing anyone any favors in this regard. As always, we pass along savings to our customers whenever we can.
The generic colchicine is much cheaper in the U.S., starting around $20.00 for a 30-day supply. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we sell it in a 100-day supply for about $62.00, making the per-pill price a bit lower, which will save you money throughout the course of the year.
Xeljanz (tofacitinib) is a Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitor commonly prescribed for patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, as well as ulcerative colitis. JAK inhibitors work by blocking the message in your body telling it to make more of a protein called cytokines. Some cytokines are good but an overabundance of this protein can play a role in excessive inflammation. JAK inhibitors will tell your body to stop making additional cytokines in order to ease inflammation.
Essentially, JAK inhibitors are an immunosuppressant, and by slowing down this response, swelling in the joints typically goes down, which eases pain in those joints. If the inflammation and swelling in the joints is not treated, it could cause permanent damage that surgery will not be able to fix.
Xeljanz was initially approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis in 2012, and its use was expanded to ulcerative colitis in 2018. All of this means, of course, that Xeljanz is an expensive medication.
In the United States, you can expect to pay a cash price of about $5,000.00 for a 60-count bottle of pills. While still rather pricey, we sell the same 60-count bottle of pills at NorthWestPharmacy.com for about $1,485.00.
Furthermore, we have access to a generic version, which we sell for about half the price of the name brand. A 60-count bottle of generic tofacitinib costs about $757.00 at NorthWestPharmacy.com.
Finding a Safe Online Canadian Pharmacy for Your Arthritis Medication
If you have debilitating arthritis pain and rely on your medication to get through your daily life, getting your prescription at an affordable price is likely pretty important to you. Given the increasing cost of healthcare in the United States and the shifting burden of out-of-pocket costs, people are more cognizant than ever about the price of their prescriptions.
The combination of these circumstances has caused a large number of Americans to look overseas for their prescriptions, including online Canadian pharmacies and international ones. This prospect can seem overwhelming since there are so many options available and finding a reputable online pharmacy can seem daunting.
We may be a little biased, but we believe that NorthWestPharmacy.com is the very best of online pharmacies for people looking to save money on their arthritis medications. We are focused on two main goals: maintaining our safety standards so we can make sure you’re getting the authentic medication you need and getting you the best possible price on your medications.
First and foremost, we take safety very seriously. We follow all safety protocols of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) and the International Pharmacy Association of British Columbia (IPABC).
These two organizations are third-party groups specifically formed to monitor online Canadian pharmacies, set safety standards, and help consumers determine which companies are worth purchasing from. The requirements for their certification are stringent and modeled on retail pharmacy practices throughout North America.
We take a great amount of pride in the fact that we not only maintain certifications from CIPA and IPABC, but we often exceed their requirements.
In order to help ensure our supply chain is secure, we only work with international pharmacies that have been certified by CIPA, and if the pharmacy is located in the province of British Columbia, we require an IPABC certification as well.
Knowing that the pharmacies we source from are following the same safety protocols and checks in place (such as a pharmacist on staff at all times to look for potentially negative drug interactions in each patients’ files, updating patient information, and privacy safeguards) helps assure you that you’re getting the exact medication you need and it is being dispensed by a licensed professional.
Another aspect of our business that sets us apart from the others is our dedication to customer service. We understand that it can be a nerve-wracking experience to order medication online (especially the first time), so we employ a knowledgeable customer service team to answer questions, help you place an order, or check on the status of an order.
Our call center team is open daily (including on weekends). You can get a hold of them by calling 1-866-539-5330. They’re a fantastic resource for our customers as are our licensed counseling pharmacists who you can get in touch with at the same number. If you need to get in touch with us outside of business hours, please don’t hesitate to email us and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.