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How to save money on thyroid medication

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What affects drug costs?About patentsBrand vs. genericWhat does Synthroid treat?Cost-effective alternativesContacting a doctorSummary
Costs for Synthroid, a brand-name thyroid medication, can be high for many reasons, including its patent and your insurance coverage level. Generic versions may become available after the patent expires, making the drug more affordable overall.
Medically reviewed by Philip Ngo, PharmD
Written by Rashida Ruwa, RN
Updated on

Synthroid can be very expensive due to various factors. However, cost-effective generic alternatives, such as levothyroxine, are available under different brands, including Unithroid and Levoxyl.

If you’re looking for ways to save money on your medication, consider discussing your options with a healthcare professional. They can explore cost-effective alternatives, including switching to a generic medication or identifying assistance programs that may provide financial assistance or discounts.

What affects Synthroid costs?

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Several factors can affect Synthroid costs, including:

  • Patents: Synthroid is a brand-name medication, and while the manufacturer holds a patent, the drug can be more expensive due to the exclusivity the patent grants.
  • Insurance coverage: The cost of Synthroid can vary depending on your insurance plan. Insurance providers may cover different portions of the medication’s cost, affecting out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Generic alternatives: Once the patent for Synthroid expires, generic versions may become available. Generic medications like levothyroxine are typically more affordable and can contribute to cost savings.
  • Manufacturer pricing: Pharmaceutical companies set the initial price for their medications, including Synthroid, and can adjust it over time. Manufacturer decisions and market dynamics can affect the final cost of the medication.
  • Pharmacy pricing: Different pharmacies may offer Synthroid at varying prices. It’s worth comparing prices at different pharmacies or exploring discount programs to find the best price.

About patents and how they affect cost

When a pharmaceutical company develops a new medication, the company can apply for a patent that gives it exclusive rights to produce and sell the drug for a specific period.

During this period, which can be 12–16 years, no other company can manufacture and distribute the same medication. This allows the patent holder to set prices based on market demand.

This exclusivity contributes to the higher cost of brand-name medications like Synthroid, as pharmaceutical companies invest in a significant amount of research, development, and clinical trials. Therefore, they rely on the exclusivity period to recover these costs and generate profit.

Pharmaceutical companies also engage in strategic patenting to delay or block generic competition, leading to artificially high drug prices. This practice may hold back innovation and prevent people from accessing cheaper generic options, affecting the affordability and accessibility of medications.

However, once the patent expires, other companies can produce generic versions of the medication. This usually helps lower costs because the new manufacturers don’t have to include costs for research, development, trials, or approval.

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Brand-name drugs vs. generic drugs

Synthroid is the brand name for levothyroxine, a medication used to replace or supplement the body’s thyroid hormone. While brand-name drugs may have a higher cost due to the associated research and development, the brand-name drug itself is no more effective than its generic counterpart.

Generic levothyroxine is also equally as safe as Synthroid. Levothyroxine has the same active ingredients, meaning that it will work in the same way, but the inactive ingredients may differ.

Inactive ingredients do not treat a health condition. However, inactive ingredients may help in other ways, such as the way your body absorbs the medication or by masking unpleasant tastes.

Differences in costs can still exist among generic options due to manufacturing processes, quantity discounts, insurance type, and whether or not a pharmacy offers medication discounts. However, overall, generic medications are usually more cost effective.

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What conditions does Synthroid treat?

Levothyroxine (Synthroid) primarily treats hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.

Healthcare professionals may also prescribe it for people who need surgery or radioiodine therapy for some types of thyroid cancer.

Additionally, hypothyroidism associated with the autoimmune disorder Hashimoto thyroiditis (aka Hashimoto disease) may also benefit from levothyroxine (Synthroid) treatment.

Are there any more cost-effective alternatives?

Doctors and healthcare professionals may commonly prescribe Synthroid for thyroid conditions. However, more cost-effective alternatives are available. These may include:

  • Levothyroxine: Healthcare professionals primarily prescribe levothyroxine, a generic form of Synthroid for hypothyroidism. Levothyroxine is available under various other brands, including Levoxyl and Unithroid. Levothyroxine is typically more affordable than Synthroid.
  • Armour thyroid: Armour thyroid is a natural alternative to Synthroid. It contains desiccated thyroid extract from animal sources. It’s available by prescription, and a healthcare professional may recommend it based on individual needs. 
  • Liothyronine (Cytomel): Liothyronine (Cytomel) contains a synthetic form of the thyroid hormone T3 (triiodothyronine). Doctors sometimes use it as an alternative or addition to levothyroxine for some people. 

Some Synthroid manufacturer discounts may also be available. You might benefit from checking their website to see for options that can help you save money.

Discussing options with a doctor

You may consider discussing alternatives or ways to save money on medications with a healthcare professional. They can assess your specific medical needs, monitor your thyroid function, and guide you toward the most suitable and cost-effective medication.

Discussing any concerns or financial challenges can help a healthcare professional adjust the treatment plan accordingly. Plus, they can recommend prescription assistance programs or other cost-saving initiatives.


Saving money on thyroid medication like Synthroid is possible. Cost-effective solutions are available. You can find one by understanding factors contributing to medication costs, considering generic alternatives, and discussing options with a doctor or healthcare professional. 

Remember, generic medications are as safe and effective as their brand-name counterparts, and a healthcare team can help you find the best solution for your well-being and financial circumstances.

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