How much does platelet rich plasma or PRP injection cost?
We might start by first talking about how to define PRP.
PRP is an extract from blood enriched for platelet growth factors. There are many ways of making PRP and products are very heterogeneous. Some preps may contain actual platelets or fragments of platelets.
These products are claimed to treat a whole range of health conditions, mainly through the growth factors in them. PRP is most often marketed for orthopedic issues, but use for hair loss is growing.
It is used mostly by for-profit, unproven stem cell clinics, but more university orthopedic and sports medicine departments are trying it too.
Is it worth the cost and what exactly are the price tags for PRP? Let’s dig into the data and go through the considerations.
Platelet-rich plasma or PRP injection trends
PRP has really exploded in the clinical setting in recent years so the price range has been a challenging moving target to define. I think the marketing has also gotten ahead of the data in published, carefully controlled studies.
There may be a few defined issues where the data could support use, but one would have to carefully do your homework and talk to your doctor.
Part of what has made this stuff so popular is that PRP can relatively easily be made for each patient. It is almost always made from and used in the same patient.
We call that autologous.
Overall, it’s cheap to make and clinics can mark the price way up so they make a large profit margin, most often without clearly running afoul of FDA regulations too.
Is that good for patients? I don’t see how.
I did some polling 2020 to try to get data on the cost.
You may also find the infographic on PRP injections by my student Mina Kim to be a useful resource as you think about PRP more generally.
PRP injection costs around $2,000 based on poll results & published data
While I don’t have my own historical data on PRP, this new 2020 polling provides a baseline and can be compared to other resources on PRP. For instance see this interview I did with UCSF’s Dr. Drew Lansdown, who has studied PRP cost.
In the poll, most people said they paid less than $2,000 for it, which is much cheaper than stem cell injections. Only 5% of people said they paid more than $10,000 for PRP. While most often cheaper than stem cells, if PRP doesn’t work for many things, that can still be a big waste of money.
There was also an interesting paper published in February 2020 by Dr. Lansdown about the cost of PRP: What Is the Appropriate Price for Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections for Knee Osteoarthritis? A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Based on Evidence From Level I Randomized Controlled Trials.
Here are the key passages from the abstract about the price tag that would make PRP potentially “worth” the cost:
For PRP to be cost-effective, the total treatment cost would have to be less than $3,703.03 and $1,192.08 for 6- and 12-month outcomes, respectively.
For patients with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, PRP is cost-effective, from the payer perspective, at a total price (inclusive of clinic visits, the procedure, and the injectable) of less than $1,192.08 over a 12-month period, relative to HA and saline solution.”
I also found a great YouTube video of a lecture by Dr. Landsdown about PRP that also bears on efficacy and cost as well, which I’ve posted below. I recommend watching the whole thing as he’s a really good speaker with a focus on data.
Is PRP worth it and what does the future hold?
Looking ahead, how will PRP injection cost change? I expect the price to come down further given the amount of competition out there.
Patients should be fact-checking claims about PRP and asking probing questions to those marketing it.
They should also be talking to their personal physicians, who have no conflicts of interest.
Note: This post is not medical advice.