These Inhalers No Longer Cost More Than $35 Per Month

<p>Grace Cary / Getty Images</p>

Grace Cary / Getty Images

Fact checked by Nick Blackmer

Key Takeaways

  • Three major pharmaceutical companies have announced price caps for their inhalers.

  • The inhalers treat patients with asthma and COPD.

  • Changes were made in response to pressure from lawmakers.

Amidst untenable drug prices, there's finally some good news: Several pharmaceutical companies are capping the out-of-pocket price of select inhalers at $35.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is the latest company to announce a price cap this month, following the lead of AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingelheim, who revealed their inhaler price ceilings in March.

The news “builds on GSK’s strong track record of increasing access and improving the affordability of its medicines, including an ongoing commitment to responsible pricing,” the company said in a statement.

AstraZeneca shared a similar sentiment, stating that the company “remains dedicated to transforming patient outcomes, while ensuring access and affordability of our innovative medicines.” Boehringer Ingelheim, which was the first to announce an inhaler price cap, said in a statement that its program “builds on the company’s long-standing commitment to supporting patients.”

But this shared commitment to improved patient experiences isn’t a coincidence. The price caps come after lawmakers criticized the companies, along with Teva Pharmaceuticals, for having high prices. (Teva Pharmaceuticals has not announced plans for an inhaler price cap.) In a letter sent to the companies, the lawmakers noted that prices for these monthly inhalers are much higher in the U.S. than abroad.

“There is no rational reason, other than greed, as to why GlaxoSmithKline charges $319 for Advair HFA in the United States, but just $26 for the same inhaler in the United Kingdom,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, said in a statement. “It is unacceptable that Teva is charging Americans with asthma $286 for its QVAR RediHaler that costs just $9 in Germany. It is beyond absurd that Boehringer Ingelheim charges $489 for Combivent Respimat in the United States, but just $7 in France.”

Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network, told Verywell Health that this is "great news" for people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“Many patients, including my own, cannot afford their inhalers despite having health insurance due to exorbitant costs,” Parikh said. “Even to get these meds covered, there are hoops that doctors must jump through to get prior authorizations and approvals, which delays medical treatment for our patients. This will help people get on their medications sooner.”

The price cut eligibility varies between brands. Here’s a breakdown.

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GSK announced its $35 out-of-pocket price cap on March 20, though it’s not the first example of patient assistance offered by the company.

“In the U.S., we already provide significant rebates and discounts for our products, as well as patient assistance programs, to help bring down costs,” Maya Martinez-Davis, president of U.S. Commercial, GSK, said in a statement.

Which Inhalers Does This Apply To?

The new price cap impacts all of GSK’s asthma and COPD medicines. Specific inhalers impacted include:

  • Advair Diskus (fluticasone propionate and salmeterol inhalation powder)

  • Advair HFA (fluticasone propionate and salmeterol inhalation aerosol)

  • Anoro Ellipta (umeclidinium and vilanterol inhalation powder)

  • Arnuity Ellipta (fluticasone furoate inhalation powder)

  • Breo Ellipta (fluticasone furoate and vilanterol inhalation powder)

  • Incruse Ellipta (umeclidinium inhalation powder)

  • Serevent Diskus (salmeterol xinafoate inhalation powder)

  • Trelegy Ellipta (fluticasone furoate, umeclidinium, and vilanterol inhalation powder)

  • Ventolin HFA (albuterol sulfate inhalation aerosol)

GSK said that it will share more details closer to when the price caps roll out.

Who Is Eligible?

Most people are eligible for the price ceiling.

“The program covers those with commercial insurance and those who are uninsured,” Lyndsay Meyer, director of U.S. Corporate Media Relations at GSK, told Verywell.

However, those who are in federal government insurance plans may not receive this benefit.

“Government restrictions exclude people enrolled in federal government insurance programs from co-pay support,” Meyer said.

When Do These Price Caps Take Effect?

GSK said that the price cap will go into effect no later than January 1, 2025.

Related: What Do Different Inhaler Colors Mean?


AstraZeneca announced on March 18 that it would roll out a savings program.

“We remain dedicated to addressing the need for affordability of our medicines, but the system is complex and we cannot do it alone,” Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer of AstraZeneca, said in a statement. “It is critical that Congress bring together key stakeholders to help reform the healthcare system so patients can afford the medicines they need, not just today, but for the future.”

Which Inhalers Does This Apply To?

The price cap applies to inhalers for asthma and COPD. Those include:

  • Airsupra (albuterol and budesonide)

  • Bevespi Aerosphere (glycopyrrolate and formoterol fumarate) Inhalation Aerosol

  • Breztri Aerosphere (budesonide, glycopyrrolate, and formoterol fumarate) Inhalation Aerosol

  • Symbicort  (budesonide and formoterol fumarate dihydrate) Inhalation Aerosol

AstraZeneca also said that it “substantially reduced” the price of Symbicort on January 1.

Who Is Eligible?

The price cap will apply to people who have health insurance, as well as those who are uninsured and underinsured.

When Do These Price Caps Take Effect?

AstraZeneca’s price caps will go into effect starting June 1, 2024.

Related: Guide to Over-the-Counter Inhalers for Asthma

Boehringer Ingelheim

Boehringer Ingelheim was the first company to announce a price cap, revealing the news on March 7.

Jean-Michel Boers, president and CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim USA Corporation, said in a statement that the company wants “to do our part to help patients living with COPD or asthma who struggle to pay for their medications” and will “continue to advocate for substantive policy reforms to improve the healthcare system.”

Which Inhalers Does This Apply To?

This applies to a range of inhalers the company makes to treat asthma and COPD, including:

  • Atrovent HFA (ipratropium bromide HFA) Inhalation Aerosol

  • Combivent Respimat (ipratropium bromide and albuterol) Inhalation Spray

  • Spiriva HandiHaler (tiotropium bromide inhalation powder)

  • Spiriva Respimat 1.25 mcg (tiotropium bromide) Inhalation Spray

  • Spiriva Respimat 2.5 mcg (tiotropium bromide) Inhalation Spray

  • Stiolto Respimat (tiotropium bromide and olodaterol) Inhalation Spray

  • Striverdi Respimat (olodaterol) Inhalation Spray

Who Is Eligible?

Boehringer Ingelheim said the program will help people who are insured, as well as those who are uninsured and underinsured.

When Do These Price Caps Take Effect?

The price caps start on June 1, 2024, Boehringer Ingelheim said.

What This Means For You

If you use an inhaler for asthma or COPD, it may soon become more affordable. If your go-to inhaler isn’t impacted by the out-of-pocket price cap, talk to your healthcare provider. They may be able to recommend an alternative that is under the price cap. And yes, it’s possible that you may end up paying less than $35 for an inhaler from one of these companies, depending on your insurance.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.