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How to Save On Your Bipolar Disorder Medication

April 6, 2021

high drug prices

The most common reason people come to NorthWestPharmacy.com is to price check their medication. They want to know if we have their medication at a lower price than what they can find through their local pharmacy or even through a mail order service.

The short answer here is that we probably do have it at a more affordable price, regardless of the condition you’re treating.

Bipolar disorder meds are a particular matter of interest for many of our customers. Given the expense of mood stabilizers for such a specialized disorder and the prevalence of the condition among Americans, this isn’t entirely surprising.

The good news for Americans is that NorthWestPharmacy.com can offer some relief for people struggling with the financial strain of their bipolar disorder treatment.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression or manic-depressive illness) is a chronic mental condition characterized by unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and concentration. The shifts are typically quite clear and easily identified.

"Up" moods (or manic phases) result in periods of high energy that can also come with very happy feelings but can also come with unusual irritability. There is also a variation of manic phases that are less extreme, called hypomania.

Conversely, "down moods" (or depression phases) can result in periods of low energy, indifference, and debilitating depression. It’s not uncommon for people going through depressive phases to want to stay in bed all day — or literally stay in bed all day in more severe cases.

The shifts between these moods can severely impact and disrupt people’s lives, changing their sleep patterns, productivity, decision-making, behavior, appetite, and cognition. These changes in mood can occur frequently or infrequently, depending on multiple factors, including each individual person, medication adherence, and stress.

Bipolar disorder is considered common in the United States, with over 3 million cases per year reported in the United States. There are three different types of bipolar disorder:

  • Bipolar I Disorder is typically identified as having a manic period lasting about seven days, or an extreme manic episode that requires medical intervention. Depressive episodes are also quite intense, lasting for two weeks or longer.
  • Bipolar II Disorder often has less intense manic episodes (nothing like someone with bipolar I disorder might need medical attention for), with patients typically experiencing hypomanic periods and depressive episodes.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (also known as Cyclothymia) is characterized by less severe hypomanic and depressive episodes that are not necessarily serious enough to be classified in the bipolar I or II categories. These symptoms must be apparent for at least two years in adults and one year in children or adolescents.

Finally, there are people who exhibit some, but not all symptoms of bipolar disorder or cyclothymia. In these cases, they’re diagnosed with "other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders" and may be prescribed bipolar medications as part of their treatment plan to regulate their moods.

Most often, bipolar disorder presents itself in late adolescence or early adulthood (late teens to early 20s, typically). However, sometimes symptoms can present in children or during periods of extreme hormonal stress, such as during pregnancy or postpartum recovery.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Treatment for bipolar disorder often centers around mood stabilizers that are specifically designed to target two chemicals in your brain that are responsible for mood and behavior: serotonin and dopamine. Because of the parallels between serotonin and dopamine, and bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, treatment options often overlap between the two conditions.

An overabundance of serotonin is what typically causes the rapid mood swings from elation to depression. Dopamine is what helps memory and attention span, but having too much of it can cause hallucinations, which is sometimes a symptom of schizophrenia.

Therefore, mood stabilizers are used to regulate these two chemicals, making sure that your body is producing the correct amount for mood stability. Antidepressants are also common in bipolar treatment plans (though they are only used with extreme caution), in addition to second-generation (atypical) antipsychotics. Atypical antipsychotics often have fewer adverse side effects than traditional psychotic medications.

Popular Bipolar Disorder Medications

While bipolar disorder has specific characterizations to help physicians classify and diagnose their patients, there are varying degrees and severity all along the spectrum. Therefore — like many mental health drugs — it can take time to find the right bipolar medication for you and your specific symptoms. Here are some of the most popular bipolar disorder medications, and how much they cost.

Latuda

Latuda (lurasidone) is a mood stabilizer specifically used to treat the depressive side of bipolar disorder by boosting the "feel-good" chemicals. Latuda is also sometimes used to treat schizophrenia because it helps organize thoughts.

Latuda is pretty expensive in the United States. While there are many determining factors for price-setting of medication in the U.S., one of the most significant matters is whether or not a generic is available. In this case, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only approved Latuda in 2010, which means that its patent period has not yet ended (20 years is typical). Because there is no competition, the pharmaceutical executives can essentially charge whatever they want.

For a one-month (30-day) supply of 20 mg Latuda, you can expect to pay a cash price of about $1,400.00 in the U.S. If you have insurance, the price can vary widely, depending on your prescription coverage. If you require a higher dose, you can expect to pay even more. The 120 mg dose retails for about $2,000.00.

At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we sell Latuda at a much more affordable price, with a one-month supply of the 20 mg dose being about $180.00. While the price of other dosages varies, it’s not far off from this benchmark price, and you can expect to pay something around that price tag.

The other thing that allows NorthWestPharmacy.com to save you money on your bipolar medication is that we have access to a generic. Currently, the generic is available in two dosages (40 mg and 80 mg), and the price is very affordable.

The 40 mg dose of lurasidone comes in a 100-pill quantity and will cost about $96.00, which comes out to less than $1.00 per pill.

The 80 mg dose costs a bit more, coming in at about $192.00 for 100 pills. Regardless, it’s still less expensive than name-brand Latuda.

Abilify

Abilify (aripiprazole) is another very popular bipolar medication. This mood stabilizer has been on the market for much longer than Latuda and therefore, has a generic alternative that is much less expensive. Another reason for its popularity is that it comes in multiple forms, including pills, an injection, and an oral solution.

A one-month supply of Abilify in the lowest pill dose (2 mg) costs about $954.00 in the U.S. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, the same amount will cost you about $128.00, with the generic being even more affordable, coming in at about $31.00. If you get a 90-day supply, it’s cheaper per pill — about $63.00.

If you need an injectable version, there is no generic alternative, but we have this version of Abilify at a pretty affordable price. A 7.5 mg/mL dose is about $38.00. While injections are typically used for people who are hospitalized, they can also be useful for people who struggle with remembering to take their daily pills (or have trouble swallowing) or require a home health aid.

The oral solution comes in 150 mL bottles and costs about $304.00. By contrast, there is a generic alternative for the oral solution in the U.S., but it’s more expensive than NorthWestPharmacy.com’s brand name bottle.

Another option with Abilify is a once monthly injection that is marketed under the name Abilify Maintena. In the U.S., this can run you about $1,800.00 to $2,400.00, depending on whether you require the 300 mg or the 400 mg dose. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, our prices start around $550.00 per dose.

Seroquel/Seroquel XR

Seroquel (quetiapine) is an atypical antipsychotic that is commonly used to treat both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. It’s been on the market for quite some time and therefore, a generic is readily available.

In the United States, the cash price for Seroquel starts at about $150.00 per month for the lowest dose (25 mg). At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we offer a one-month supply of the same dose for about $33.00.

Of course, the generic is more affordable. In the U.S. a one-month supply of the 25 mg dose of quetiapine costs about $9.00, which is about $0.30 per pill. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we sell the generic for about $25.00, but that’s for a 100-pill supply, which is about $0.25 per pill.

Seroquel XR is a very similar medication, but the formula is designed to release more slowly. The XR stands for "extended release." Both types serve their own purposes in the treatment of bipolar depression, but both are effective.

The downside is that Seroquel XR is more expensive. In the U.S., a one-month supply of the 50 mg dose (the lowest possible) will run you about $306.00. By contrast, we sell it at NorthWestPharmacy.com for about $110.00 — but for a two-month supply.

Geodon

Geodon (ziprasidone) is another popular atypical antipsychotic used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. It’s been on the market for long enough that a generic is readily available. It’s also important to note that it’s called Zeldox in Canada.

In the U.S., Geodon is about $702.00 for a one-month supply of the 20 mg dose. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, it’s about $123.00 for a 56-pill supply of the same dose.

The generic version is much more affordable, coming in at about $25.00 in the United States. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we sell it for about $40.00, but in a 56-pill quantity.

Why are Bipolar Disorder Medications So Expensive?

Like any other medication, its price in the United States is affected by many different factors. While the overall price of prescription drugs has been creeping upward over the past few decades, there are some consistent reasons behind some drugs being more expensive than others. These reasons include:

  • Availability of a generic version or if only a brand name is available
  • How many competitors are available
  • How common the disease or condition the medication treats is
  • The expense and length of time the drug took to develop
  • The complexity of the medication
  • Whether or not the medication is under the patent period
  • Inflation
  • Lack of government price regulation (arguably, a major issue in the U.S.)

Bipolar disorder medications have a few things going for them in that the disease itself is considered "common" and that there are a few different medications that treat it. Additionally, there are generic versions available, so the cost can be lower in some instances.

Individual Needs Differ

The trouble of course, is finding the medication that works best for each individual. Some people do well with a generic, while others simply do not. For most intents and purposes, generic drugs and brand name drugs are virtually the same thing, but the inactive ingredients that are used can differ and it’s possible for people to react differently to different inactive ingredients.

Additionally, some people may be allergic to the active ingredient in a particular medication, which means that the brand name and the generic are completely ruled out for them. In that case, they need a medication with a different active ingredient, and that medication might just be more expensive, such as in the case of Geodon versus Seroquel.

Finding a Safe Online Canadian Pharmacy for More Affordable Bipolar Medication

At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we understand how stressful it can be when your medication is out of your price range. Every prescribed medication is necessary in some regard, no matter what the condition it is treating, but for people who suffer from bipolar disorder, having regular access to affordable medication is incredibly important.

Our number one goal is to keep you safe. We are extraordinarily careful and follow all safety protocols of the the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) and the International Pharmacy Association of British Columbia (IPABC).

In order to ensure that our supply chain is safe and reliable, we only have our medications dispensed from pharmacies that are also adhering to the same safety standards. Every pharmacy we work with is also certified by CIPA. As a result, our safety record is flawless — and we put in a lot of effort to keep it that way.

Get in touch with us today if you’re ready to place your order, or if you need help getting through the ordering process. Our call center is staffed by knowledgeable customer service representatives and is open 7 days a week by calling 1-866-539-5330. You can even speak with a licensed pharmacist for medication counseling when you call. If you’re trying to reach us outside of business hours, you can always email us and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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