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Home » Dry Eye Clinic » Restasis, Xiidra Prescription Eye Drops for Dry Eye: Cost vs. Benefit?

Restasis, Xiidra Prescription Eye Drops for Dry Eye: Cost vs. Benefit?

Pharmacist holding blank prescription

As Seen on TV! And many magazines and other publications!

It appears that Big Pharma loves to advertise and with the high cost of TV time, one can probably assume that the most advertised medications are the most expensive.  Granted, most of these medications are probably quite effective in producing the desired effects, but with most patients having high deductible plans and sky rocketing health care/insurance costs, we try to ensure that our patients are getting their best bang for their buck with the medications that we prescribe and treatments that we recommend.

Restasis and Xiidra are non-steroidal anti inflammatory eyedrops that work on the principle that dry eye symptoms are often (but not always) caused by chronic inflammation of tissues that secrete your tears. This inflammation causes decreased tear production and dry eye symptoms such as eye redness, burning, gritty, and watering eyes.  Both medications are in eyedrop form and for best results, must used every morning and every night. Results and decreased symptoms are usually noticed after six to twelves weeks of treatment and maximum effectiveness may not be reached until up to six to twelve MONTHS after initiating treatment.  If the treatment is discontinued, symptoms usually return to pretreatment level, hence this is an ongoing treatment, not a cure.

Although prices vary, Restasis/Xiidra will usually cost between $200 and $400 per month.  Insurance coverage varies wildly and a pre-authorization process (documenting the use of lesser cost treatments) is often required. Manufacturers will sometimes offer programs that can lower the cost of the medications but for many patients, Restasis/Xiidra can still be considered expensive medications especially in the current times of high deductibles.

Are Restasis/Xiidra effective?  Now that of course is the big question and opinions vary. Here is the link to the official Restasis and Xiidra webpages which show some degree of benefits but interpretations of the data can vary also.

Do we recommend Restasis/Xiidra? I have written many prescriptions for these medications with patients reporting a wide range of effectiveness from non at all to less dependency on lubrication drops to no lubrication drops at all.  To control cost to the patient and the health care system in general,  I usually recommend Restasis/Xiidra after all less expensive treatment options have failed, not as a first line of defense against dry eye unless the inflammation problem poses an immediate threat.

In my opinion (and others may disagree), most dry eye can be effectively treated with ongoing use of preservative free lubrication drops (in single use tubes) such as Retaine two to three times per day  if this and/or other conservative treatment measures fail, Restasis/Xiidra are definitely worth trying.

If you are having dry eye problems, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Sarah or I to discuss all of your treatment options.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Steve