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All TopicsForum: Employment, Insurance, and Other Financial Issues → Topic: Cost of Neulasta

Topic: Cost of Neulasta

Forum: Employment, Insurance, and Other Financial Issues —

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Posted on: Oct 28, 2010 12:38PM, edited Aug 20, 2013 06:02AM by deadlanguages

deadlanguages wrote:

I'm surprised to see so little activity on this thread. Frankly the money and insurance issues surrounding cancer are *way more stressful* to me than the actual disease.

So I just found out that Neulasta is freakishly expensive if I get the shot at the hospital. Something like $12,000 an injection. Insurance covers about $3000 of each shot.

I was like "Wha....?" Seriously, nothing is worth that much money, even meds laced with 24k gold.

Does anyone else on here have United Healthcare EPO? How did you manage the cost of the Neulasta?

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Posts 1 - 12 (12 total)

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Oct 28, 2010 01:09PM lago wrote:

I get my Neulasta shipped to me (with dry ice) from a special pharmacy my insurance uses (Blue Cross & Blue Shield of MA). My husband gives me the shot so I don't have to go back to the hospital. I think it's cheaper if you have it sent to you. I was told it was $3000 a shot. I have a $30 copay for it.


I do have to contact the special pharmacy everytime I need it to let them know they need to ship it out. They won't send it all at once. They send it for each treatment.

DONE!! alturl.com/3o9ni • Tattoos 2.7.2012 • Nipples 10.6.2011 • Exchange 6.24.2011 • Chemo 1.18. 2011 • BMX 8.31.2010

Dx 7/13/2010, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIb, Grade 3, 0/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Oct 28, 2010 01:13PM o2bhealthy wrote:

I had United Healthcare Choice Plus when originally dx'd - my Neulesta was $7,000 - I have no idea how much of that was covered by insurance but I do know I had already met my out of pocket maximum so I never had to worry about my 20% co-insurance however by the end of the year we had paid out over $10,000 with deductibles, co-pays, ect... 

I agree it is ABSOLUTELY ridiculous how much heath care costs - especially when you pay out so much for insurance.  The money and insurance issues were 'way more stressful' then my dx as well.  

Michelle ~ DCIS and IDC - Thyroid Cancer dx 10-27-10, partial thyroidectomy 11-23-10

Dx 5/15/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+Surgery 06/23/2009 Mastectomy (Both); Reconstruction: Tissue expander placement (Both)Chemotherapy 07/19/2009 Cytoxan, TaxotereTargeted Therapy 07/19/2009 HerceptinSurgery 11/12/2009 Reconstruction: Breast implants (permanent) (Both)Hormonal Therapy 12/01/2009 Tamoxifen
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Oct 28, 2010 01:16PM deadlanguages wrote:

I'm thinking about doing the injections myself but I am a squeamish bitch. LOL! (Weirdly, I can give injections to other people - had to do it for my dad a  couple of times - but on myself? WIMP.)

Dx 6/30/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage Ia, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER+, HER2-
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Oct 28, 2010 01:25PM Luah wrote:

In Canada, the neulasta shots were quoted to me as $2500 per injection.  The drug company has a Victory program that supplements insurance benefits. Not sure if it applies in the U.S. but you might inquire.

I did the injections myself - not so bad really.

We've been through some things together/With trunks of memories still to come/Long may you run (Neil Young). Lx, ALND, 4 DD AC &12 weekly Taxol, 31 rads, completed Jul 10

Dx 9/14/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIb, Grade 3, 1/14 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Oct 28, 2010 01:40PM Fighter_34 wrote:

^^^^

I am doing the same thing Lago. It's too time consuming to come back the next day for the shot and too much of a drive. My copay is 30 as well.

Dx 8/30/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Oct 28, 2010 01:51PM Wonderland wrote:

Nulasta cost is shocking! My Neulasta shot cost $6300/shot. I had 7 of them. Even having the shot, my white blood count bottomed out and I was hospitalized. I can't imagine what would have happened to me if I didn't have the shot!

Towards the end of chemo I needed 3 Aranesp shots (for red blood counts). They cost less but still a couple of thousands/shot.

"Put on your coat. It's easier to stay warm than it is to get warm." George the Llama Man

Dx 11/2006, IDC, <1cm, Stage IIa, Grade 2, 2/36 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Oct 28, 2010 03:42PM, edited Oct 28, 2010 06:17PM by lovemygarden

I have no insurance, and the cost of Neulasta was the main reason I opted to get Taxol instead of Taxotere. I could not have afforded the shots along with having to pay for everything else out of pocket!  Taxol doesn't trash your whitecells nearly as much as Taxotere does; most people on Taxol don't drop low enough to need Neulasta.  My counts held up beautifully over the 12 weeks of Taxol; they dropped a little during the last 4 weeks but not low enough to cause any concern. 

 Btw, Neupogen which is a similar drug is less expensive than Neulasta (though still not cheap). The main difference is that Neulasta is "turbo charged" so to speak, and only needs one dose per treatment, whereas Neupogen has to be administered as multiple daily shots given over 3-4 days in succession.

Because Neulasta is a biologic drug (like Herceptin is) it will probably never (because of current FDA rules) have a generic version, and so the cost of it will probably never come down from the current stratospheric levels. Ironically there are generic versions in Europe but not here. Neupogen is also a biologic but with some differences. Interesting article here about the legal squabble over a generic ("biosimilar") version of Neupogen: www.gabionline.net/Biosimilars...

As always, it's the patients who get the short end of the needle, er, stick!

p.s. to deadlanguages: I see you are in NY; be aware that your oncology costs are going to be higher at a hospital facility than at an oncologist's office because NY State slaps a surcharge on any service performed at a hospital. For an uninsured person it's 9.63%. For an insurance company it's almost 29%. This is one reason why health insurance premiums in NY are higher than in many other states. 

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Oct 28, 2010 10:33PM, edited Aug 20, 2013 06:02AM by Chirps

Is the price the "contract price" with your insurance company?  Sometimes the "contract price" is much less...  And, just for another "current" figure, I was told that locally one Neulasta shot now costs $7,000 plus some $150 to the nurse to give it! (not "contract" prices, I think)

At any rate, check out http://www.neulasta.com/patient/support/patient_assistance.html which is the drug mfg's Patient Assistance Program.  I don't know anything about it, other than "it exists"...

Edit to add:  The drug company's "Patient Assistance Program" provides FREE or LOW COST drugs to patients who qualify... (This is a common offering for many drugs these days.)

BMX, TCx4

Dx 7/21/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage Ia, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Oct 29, 2010 09:52PM nene2059 wrote:

My Neulasta shots were $5000/injection and I got them at my onc's office after every chemo so that was 8x.  Astronomical pricing!  I will tell you though that by the time of the first chemo treatment, which I had before surgery, I had already met my deductible and out of pocket because of all of the testing for diagnosis so I did not pay for any of it which was a true blessing. I have Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina and they were actually great (which I was not expecting from an insurance company) BUT even with a low deductible and out of pocket max it was a financial strain.  My onc never told me about doing them myself but I think that is a great option and would have preferred it to heading back to the office theday after chemo.  Some options I do know about is to contact every pharmaceutical company about every drug you have to take and they all have free or low cost programs.  If you do have insurance and do not feel that they are covering enough or being unreasonable about a charge..APPEAL, APPEAL, APPEAL.  They have to take it to their medical board and those dr.'s will deem it as medically necessary.  I had to do it for one test and they paid for it.  Good luck and try to get a copy of Cancer (or is it Caring for Cancer?) Magazine's yearly resource edition, every onc's office should have copies of the mag in their waiting room.  This edition is a great way to find out how to get assistance with paying for treatments. The yearly subscription to the mag is also free.  Best wishes.

I can be changed by what happens to me but I refuse to be reduced by it-Maya Angelou

Dx 1/28/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIa, Grade 2, 0/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Oct 30, 2010 10:26AM eileen1955 wrote:

deadlanguage; could someone else give you the shot?  Someone mentioned the stomach muscle but I always preferred to inject mine into my thigh.             It was so much cheaper and easier than going in to hospital the day after chemo.    

going thru chemo is way more difficult than giving yourself a shot. watch it on youtube a few times.   As the previous poster noted, you pinch the skin so it's not going in that deep just has to

get into a large muscle.              to bad I'm not around; I've given shots and people said "when are you going to stick the needle in?"        (I am an RN)        But I was my most squeamish patient.  I hope you figure out a way to do it at home.            I never hear of Visiting Nurse gettinig involved in this; I think it's a shame people have to go back to the cancer center the day after chemo.       Good Luck!

Dx 10/28/2003, IDC, <1cm, Stage Ia, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Oct 30, 2010 10:44AM Claire_in_Seattle wrote:

One of the reasons I opted to do the SWOG study as Neulasta was negotiated as part of the deal.  So mine was supplied gratis by Amgen.  I did the injections myself into my abdomen.  Had no problem finding an appropriate place.

Basically took 30 seconds of my time once I remembered to take out of the fridge and warm up to room temperature.  Because you don't want to inject cold.

Worst part was knowing that I was going to wake up on Day 3 feeling achy, but thougth well worth it as I could eat whatever I wanted except for obvious things like sushi and steak tartare.

I didn't get sick once throughout the whole chemo period and was even fine with a dental mishap.

My white cell counts remained normal throughout the entire period, and I didn't get neutropenia.  So it really did its job.  This was through 6 AC and 6 Taxol.

Completed all active treatment (AC +T, lumpectomy, and radiation). Now on to the rest of my life. So much to celebrate.

Dx 8/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIb, Grade 3, 1/21 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Oct 30, 2010 01:26PM kayb wrote:

deadlanguages -

I have UHC EPO but your costs can differ depending on your employer, where you live and the negotiated prices of treatment for your plan. I got 1 Neulasta shot that was billed to insurance at $5400 and the plan payed $2460. If your hospital is billing 12000 a shot I think you might want to see if you, or UHC can make them justify that price. From the responses here, that's clearly way more than most people are being charged. You might even want to call around to some other facilities in your area and ask them what they charge for the shot so you can challenge your provider. 

This @#$%^ disease is plenty stressful on its own. None of us should have to stress out even more over our bills! 

DX May/2010, synchronous bilateral cancer, triple positive