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Why is Restasis so expensive?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on June 3, 2022.

Official answer


Restasis (cyclosporine 0.05% ophthalmic emulsion), from Allergan, was formerly only available as a brand name prescription product. Cyclosporine 0.05% ophthalmic emulsion, made by Mylan, is now available as a more affordable generic option in the U.S.

Like the brand name product Restasis, cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion has been approved by the FDA to increase tear production in patients with ocular inflammation associated with keratoconjunctivitis sicca, also known as chronic dry eye disease. It is available in single-use vials, but not as a multi-dose bottle.

Learn More: Is there a generic for Restasis eye drops?

Why are brand name drugs so expensive?

Brand name drugs can be expensive because they are the first products on the market and usually do not have a more affordable generic alternative. Manufacturers may price brand name products at high levels to recoup the expenses involved with the original research, drug development and product manufacturing, plus make a profit. There is no competition. This can push up the price greatly.

Original inventors of the drug will have a patent on the product and no other manufacturers can market the generic until the patent expires, which can take 10 years or longer. Drug pricing in the U.S. is complicated and the government does not set drug prices as often happens in other countries.

First-time generics on the market can be expensive too, although not always as expensive as the brand. For example, currently, the only generic manufacturer for cyclosporine 0.05% ophthalmic is Mylan. Because they were the first to market, they do not have generic competition yet. However, as more manufacturers start to make generic cyclosporine, you should see the price go down even further.

Other brands for cyclosporine ophthalmic eye drops for dry eye include Cequa and Verkazia, but there are no generic alternatives for these products yet.

If you are having trouble affording your medication, speak to your healthcare provider, who may have other options. In addition, some manufacturers offer copay savings and other financial assistance for medicines. You can contact them directly.


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