Janumet is a medication for type 2 diabetes that can effectively keep your blood sugar levels within your target range, along with a healthy diet and exercise. Janumet is only available as a brand-name drug because of a patent on its active ingredient, sitagliptin.

Many oral diabetes medications come at an affordable price, but why is Janumet so expensive?

In this blog post, we’ll explain the reasons behind Janumet’s astronomical price. We’ll also explore how you can get Janumet at a discounted price and whether there are more affordable alternatives you can try.

Janumet: A Brief Overview

Janumet is a widely prescribed drug for blood sugar management in adults with type 2 diabetes.

It combines two active ingredients: metformin and sitagliptin. Metformin improves the way the body responds to insulin.

Meanwhile, sitagliptin (brand-name Januvia) belongs to a class of drugs called dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4). In combination with metformin, it helps the pancreas create more insulin and lowers the amount of glucose the liver produces.

Please note that you shouldn’t take Janumet if you have a history of kidney failure, diabetic ketoacidosis, or allergic reactions to metformin or Janumet.

Reasons Janumet Is So Expensive

Here’s why Janumet costs so much:

Lack of Competition

Merck owns a patent on the active drug Januvia in Janumet and the extended-release version, Janumet XR.

The pharmaceutical company has exclusive rights to these prescription medications until the patent expires in 2026.

As such, Merck can charge a premium price to recoup its investment and maximize returns during this period.

High Demand 

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in the United States drives the demand for prescription medicines like Janumet.

Doctors prescribe Janumet or Janumet XR to patients who don’t respond to metformin or other combination drugs. Janumet is also given to prediabetics to slow down the progression of the disease.  

Lack of Regulation

Unlike other countries, the United States doesn’t regulate the price of drugs. This lack of oversight gives pharmaceutical firms greater flexibility in their pricing strategies.

The regulation of drug prices ensures that everyone, especially vulnerable patients with chronic diseases like diabetes, has access to life-saving treatments. It’s crucial to a fair and sustainable healthcare system.

Close-Up Of Credit Card Payment In Pharmacy

How Much Is Janumet?

The cost of Janumet and Janumet XR can leave a dent in your wallet.

The average price for a 30-tablet supply of Janumet 50/500 mg stands between $277.75 and $310.40. Janumet XR 50/500 mg is within a similar price range.

Does Insurance Cover Janumet?

Most health insurance plans cover Janumet and Janumet XR. Almost 92% include them at a copay of around $32.50 to $57.50.

While some providers designate Janumet as a preferred drug and guarantee coverage, other insurance companies require step therapy to qualify .

Metformin is usually the first line of treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. If you want coverage for more expensive drugs like Janumet XR, you must first fail to improve with metformin therapy.

How Can You Save Money on Your Janumet Prescription?

Consider these strategies to lessen your out-of-pocket cost when you fill out your Janumet script:

Merck’s Discount Card

Eligible patients can save up to $150 for every prescription of Janumet and Janumet XR (up to a 90-day supply).

You can get your discount card from your doctor or the manufacturer’s website, provided you have insurance other than Medicaid.

Savings Cards

A Woman Paying For Medicine With A Saving Card, Closeup

You can find savings cards on prescription drug discount websites and apps like GoodRx, RxSaver, and WellRx.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can pay as little as $5 for a free trial or save up to 80% on Janumet and other oral diabetes medications.

Seek Patient Assistance Programs

Individuals without insurance coverage face the financial burden of expensive drugs like Janumet and Janumet XR.

Merck sponsors patient assistance programs for uninsured patients so they can afford these medicines. Government and nonprofit organizations also offer similar financial aid.

Are There Cheaper Alternatives to Janumet?

Janumet and Janumet XR are brand-name drugs only. In other words, they’re not available as generic medications. 

However, several combination drugs contain metformin and another active ingredient that mimics Janumet’s effects.

We already know how metformin works, so we’ll focus on what the other half does. That way, you can explore these prescription medicines with your doctor.

  • Kazano (alogliptin and metformin): Like sitagliptin, Alogliptin belongs to the DPP-4 inhibitor class. It helps regulate blood sugar levels by releasing more insulin and decreasing glucagon production. 
  • Actoplus Met (pioglitazone and metformin): Pioglitazone is a thiazolidinedione (TZD) that enhances insulin sensitivity and reduces blood glucose production in the liver.
  • Metaglip (glipizide and metformin): Glipizide is a sulfonylurea, a class of medications that stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin.
  • Glucovance (glyburide and metformin): Glyburide is another member of the drug class sulfonylurea.

Both Kazano and Actoplus Met are available as generic medicines.

Here’s a price comparison between Janumet and similar combination drugs:

Note: Because of price disparities, we computed the median price based on retail prices across nine big-box stores and pharmacies.

A Pharmacist Giving Drug To A Young Woman

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There a Cheaper Substitute for Janumet?

There’s no lower-cost generic version of Januvet right now, so we cannot suggest alternative drugs for sitagliptin in combination with metformin.

However, you can discuss with your doctor whether Actoplus Met or Metaglip are viable generic alternatives for Janumet or Janumet XR. Both are accessible medications for metformin-treated patients.

Is Janumet Safe to Use?

Janumet is generally safe when used as prescribed under medical advice. However, people with certain medical conditions and other elderly patients 65 and older are more susceptible to adverse effects, including acute pancreatitis and lactic acidosis.

Lactic acidosis, or elevated lactate blood levels, is more common among people with a history of heart attack, kidney disease, or excessive alcohol intake. If you experience shortness of breath, joint pain, or stomach pain, stop taking Janumet immediately and inform your doctor.

Conclusion

So, why is Janumet so expensive?

Merck holds the patent for the active drug Januvia, one-half of Janumet. The company can command a steep price for this prescription medication until the patent expires in 2026 and Januvia becomes a generic drug.

You can check with your insurance company about your coverage. You can also use savings cards and discount coupons to buy Janumet and Janumet XR at a reduced cost.

Sources

To ensure that we give you correct, accurate, and relevant information, all articles on Diabetic & Me are backed by verified information from academic research papers, well-known organizations, research institutions, and medical associations.

  1. CDC Type 2 Diabetes
  2. Rare Diseases Step Therapy (Fail First)
  3. Activate The Card Merck’s Discount Card
  4. Health Line Lactic Acidosis: What You Need to Know

About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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