Why Is Skyrizi So Expensive? The Reasons Behind The High Cost

With a price tag reaching over $20,000 per year without insurance, Skyrizi stands out as one of the most costly medications on the market today. But what goes into developing and manufacturing this biologic psoriasis drug that justifies its staggering price?

By understanding the science behind Skyrizi, the role of pharmaceutical companies, and the state of the psoriasis medication market, you can better grasp the many factors driving this drug’s high cost.

If you’re short on time – here’s the gist: Skyrizi’s high price stems largely from the expense of researching and developing a complex biologic medication combined with the extended patent protection and lack of competition for this specific psoriasis treatment.

Skyrizi’s Effectiveness as a Targeted Biologic

Skyrizi is a targeted biologic medication that has gained significant attention in the treatment of psoriasis. It is designed to specifically target the underlying causes of psoriasis, providing effective relief for individuals suffering from this chronic skin condition.

How Skyrizi Works for Psoriasis

Skyrizi works by inhibiting a protein called IL-23, which plays a crucial role in the development of psoriasis. By blocking this protein, Skyrizi helps to reduce the inflammation and symptoms associated with the condition.

This targeted approach allows for more precise treatment, resulting in improved outcomes for patients.

Benefits Over Traditional Treatments

One of the key advantages of Skyrizi over traditional treatments for psoriasis is its targeted action. Unlike other medications that may have a broader effect on the immune system, Skyrizi specifically targets the IL-23 protein, minimizing the risk of side effects.

Additionally, Skyrizi has shown high efficacy rates in clinical trials, with a significant number of patients achieving clear or almost clear skin.

Compared to older treatment options, Skyrizi offers a convenient dosing schedule, with injections administered every 12 weeks. This reduces the burden on patients and improves adherence to the treatment plan, leading to better long-term outcomes.

Cost Implications of Advanced Science

While Skyrizi offers significant benefits to patients, its advanced science and targeted approach contribute to its higher cost. The development and production of biologic medications involve complex processes and extensive research, resulting in higher manufacturing expenses.

Additionally, the targeted nature of Skyrizi requires specialized equipment and expertise, further adding to the overall cost.

It is important to note that the cost of Skyrizi is also influenced by factors such as intellectual property rights, marketing expenses, and regulatory requirements. These factors contribute to the overall pricing strategy of the medication.

However, it is essential to understand that the cost of Skyrizi is not solely determined by the manufacturer. Pricing decisions are also influenced by healthcare systems, insurance coverage, and negotiations between pharmaceutical companies and payers.

These factors can vary between countries, leading to differences in the cost of Skyrizi in different regions.

Despite the higher cost, Skyrizi has proven to be an effective and well-tolerated treatment for psoriasis. It has provided relief to many patients who have struggled with the condition for years. Patients considering Skyrizi should discuss the potential benefits and costs with their healthcare provider to make an informed decision about their treatment options.

The Drug Development and Manufacturing Process

Behind the high cost of Skyrizi, there are several factors that contribute to its expensive price tag. Understanding the drug development and manufacturing process can shed light on why this medication is priced the way it is.

Research and Clinical Trial Costs

The journey of Skyrizi begins with extensive research and development conducted by pharmaceutical companies. This involves years of scientific exploration, laboratory testing, and preclinical studies to identify potential drug candidates.

Once a promising compound is discovered, it progresses to clinical trials.

Clinical trials are essential for testing the drug’s safety and efficacy in human subjects. These trials involve rigorous protocols, patient recruitment, monitoring, and data analysis. The costs associated with conducting clinical trials can be substantial, often reaching millions of dollars.

This financial investment is necessary to ensure that the drug is safe and effective for patients.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the average cost of developing a new drug is estimated to be around $2.6 billion. This massive investment, along with the high failure rate of drug candidates, significantly impacts the pricing of successful medications like Skyrizi.

Biologic Production Challenges

Skyrizi is classified as a biologic medication, which means it is produced using living organisms, such as bacteria or yeast. Biologics are complex and delicate substances that require specialized manufacturing processes and facilities. These production challenges add to the overall cost of the drug.

Biologic medications like Skyrizi undergo a complex manufacturing process that involves fermentation, purification, and formulation. These steps require strict quality control measures to ensure the drug’s safety, potency, and purity.

Additionally, the production of biologics often requires expensive equipment and highly trained personnel.

These factors contribute to the higher cost of biologic medications compared to traditional pharmaceuticals. It is important to note that the production of biologics is highly regulated and subject to stringent quality standards to ensure patient safety and efficacy.

Required FDA Approval

Before a medication like Skyrizi can be marketed and sold to the public, it must undergo a rigorous evaluation and approval process by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA ensures that drugs meet stringent standards for safety, efficacy, and quality before granting approval.

The FDA review process involves evaluating extensive data from preclinical and clinical trials, as well as manufacturing practices. This regulatory oversight is crucial in safeguarding public health but also adds to the overall cost of drug development.

It is important to note that the cost of drug development and the required FDA approval are not unique to Skyrizi but are common factors in the pricing of many medications.

Skyrizi’s Exclusivity and Patent Protection

One of the main factors contributing to the high cost of Skyrizi is its exclusivity and patent protection. This means that for a certain period of time, Skyrizi is the only medication available on the market to treat the specific condition it is designed for.

This exclusivity is granted to the pharmaceutical company that developed the drug as a result of the extensive research and development process.

Patent-Based Market Exclusivity Period

During the patent-based market exclusivity period, which typically lasts for 20 years, the pharmaceutical company has the sole right to manufacture and sell Skyrizi. This allows the company to recoup the significant investment made in research, development, and clinical trials.

The exclusivity period also serves as an incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest in the development of new drugs, as they can expect a return on their investment.

Lack of Generic Competition

Another reason for Skyrizi’s high cost is the lack of generic competition. Once the patent protection expires, other pharmaceutical companies can produce generic versions of the drug, which are usually priced lower than the brand-name medication.

However, until that happens, the original manufacturer has a monopoly in the market, which allows them to set the price at a higher level.

High Demand and Limited Supply

Furthermore, the high demand and limited supply of Skyrizi also contribute to its expensive price. Skyrizi is a highly effective medication for certain conditions, and as a result, there is a significant demand for it.

However, the production and supply of the drug may be limited due to various factors such as manufacturing capacity, regulatory requirements, and distribution challenges. This limited supply combined with high demand puts upward pressure on the price of Skyrizi.

The Pricing Power of Big Pharma

Big pharmaceutical companies often have significant pricing power when it comes to their products. This can be attributed to several factors that allow them to set high prices for medications like Skyrizi. Understanding these reasons can shed light on why the cost of Skyrizi is so high.

Pricing Strategies for Maximum Profit

One of the reasons behind the high cost of Skyrizi is the pricing strategies employed by big pharmaceutical companies. These companies invest heavily in research and development to bring innovative drugs to the market.

The costs incurred in the development process, including clinical trials and obtaining regulatory approvals, are often passed on to the consumer. Furthermore, pharmaceutical companies also factor in the potential revenue lost due to patent expiry and generic competition when determining the price of their products.

Leveraging Drug Plan Coverage

Another factor contributing to the high cost of Skyrizi is the ability of pharmaceutical companies to leverage drug plan coverage. Insurance companies and government healthcare programs often cover a portion of the cost of prescription medications.

This gives pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to set higher prices, knowing that a portion of the cost will be covered by insurance. This can result in higher out-of-pocket expenses for patients who rely on these medications.

Expensive Marketing and Promotion

Pharmaceutical companies also invest heavily in marketing and promotion, which adds to the overall cost of medications like Skyrizi. Advertising campaigns, sales representatives, and other promotional activities are designed to create awareness and generate demand for the product.

These expenses are ultimately reflected in the price of the medication, making it more expensive for consumers.

The Potential for Lower Costs in the Future

While the high cost of Skyrizi may be a deterrent for many patients, there is potential for lower costs in the future. Several factors could contribute to this, including biosimilar development, increasing market competition, and a push for more affordable prices.

Biosimilar Development

Biosimilars are biological products that are highly similar to an approved reference product and have no clinically meaningful differences in terms of safety and effectiveness. These products can provide more affordable alternatives to expensive medications like Skyrizi.

In recent years, the development of biosimilars has gained momentum, particularly in the field of dermatology. Biosimilar versions of other biologic drugs used to treat psoriasis and other inflammatory conditions have already been approved by regulatory agencies, and it is expected that biosimilars of Skyrizi will enter the market in the coming years.

As more biosimilars become available, competition will increase, leading to potential price reductions for Skyrizi and other biologic medications.

Increasing Market Competition

Competition in the pharmaceutical industry can have a significant impact on drug prices. As more companies develop and market medications similar to Skyrizi, the increased competition can drive down prices.

Currently, Skyrizi faces limited competition in the market, as it is a relatively new medication. However, as more companies invest in research and development to create similar drugs, the market for psoriasis treatments will become more competitive.

This competition can lead to price negotiations between pharmaceutical companies and insurers, resulting in lower costs for patients. Additionally, the introduction of generic versions of Skyrizi, once its patent expires, could further contribute to price reductions.

Push for More Affordable Prices

There is a growing push from patients, healthcare providers, and advocacy groups for more affordable medication prices. This pressure has led to increased scrutiny of pharmaceutical companies’ pricing practices and calls for reforms to make medications more accessible.

Government agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are also taking steps to address high drug costs. They are exploring policies that would facilitate the entry of more affordable generics and biosimilars into the market.

Furthermore, public awareness campaigns and patient advocacy efforts are raising awareness about the high cost of medications like Skyrizi and advocating for lower prices. These grassroots movements have the potential to influence policy changes and encourage pharmaceutical companies to reconsider their pricing strategies.


From the sophisticated science behind biologics to the market exclusivity granted by patents, developing innovative drugs like Skyrizi carries a steep price tag that gets passed on to patients. While health insurance coverage provides relief for some, Skyrizi’s high cost spotlights flaws in the pharmaceutical pricing system that restrict access to life-changing medications.

However, increasing competition from biosimilars and activism for affordability may eventually lower costs for patients needing critical psoriasis treatments.

Skyrizi’s high cost is driven by many factors like R&D expenses, complex manufacturing, patent protections, and pharma pricing power. But future biosimilars and pricing reforms could eventually make this advanced psoriasis medication more affordable and accessible for patients in need.

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