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Cancer and rheumatoid arthritis drugs continue to be the most costly

November 19, 2020

Salem — $43,525 per prescription makes the brand-name drug Yervoy, used to treat melanoma, the most expensive prescription drug for Oregon health insurance carriers, based on data released by the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation.

For the second year in a row, the brand-name drug Humira, commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, was the most costly prescription drug reported by Oregon’s health insurance companies, as well as the most prescribed specialty drug. Its 17,435 prescriptions in Oregon cost insurance companies approximately $81 million.

The division also released data on the most costly and most prescribed generic medications. These prescriptions typically cost less than comparable brand names. Glatiramer, used to treat multiple sclerosis, was the most expensive generic drug reported, costing insurance companies approximately $2,800 per prescription. Dextroamphetamine, a common drug for attention deficit disorder, was the most costly generic prescription for Oregon insurers, claims for this drug total more than $6 million annually. Levothyroxine, used to treat thyroid activity, is the most prescribed generic with approximately 232,000 prescriptions statewide.

“The data from our insurers is an important piece to understanding which prescription drugs have the biggest effect on our health care costs; we appreciate their willingness to share this information.,” said Andrew Stolfi, insurance commissioner and director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. “The more data we receive the better informed all of us are, that is why consumer reporting is an important piece of our drug transparency program, especially leading up to the public hearing.”

On Wednesday, Dec. 16, the division will host a virtual public hearing on prescription drug prices. Oregonians are encouraged to participate by asking questions and sharing their stories of how prescription drug prices have affected them. Visit Questions and stories on prescription drug prices to post questions and share your experience.

Responses will be used to prepare for the public hearing. The questions and stories will be shared with legislators at the hearing, but personally identifiable information will be kept anonymous.

The division released lists of the most expensive, most costly, and most prescribed drugs which are reported annually by health insurance companies that offer individual and small group plans in Oregon.

To determine what insurers paid on average for each prescription and to identify the most expensive prescriptions, the program team examined claims data for drugs prescribed to 10 or more enrollees and compared the total dollars spent by insurers to the corresponding prescription counts for each drug.

To learn more about the program or view the most expensive, most costly, and most prescribed drug lists, visit the program’s website -

To report a specific increase in the cost of a prescription drug:


About DCBS: The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, visit  

About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit and .

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Jason Horton