It’s allergy and asthma season across the United States and for families even with insurance the cost of asthma medicines can be prohibitive. Asthma is often easily prevented and controlled with the right inhalable medicines but due to patents, FDA requirements and the free-market economy (in other countries the government sets the prices for the drugs) often families can’t afford the medicines needed, according to The New York Times.
On Sunday The New York Times examined the high-cost of asthma medicines in America, which are extremely inexpensive in Europe. The article states that asthma is the most common chronic disease affecting about 40 million people in America of all ages.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the annual cost of asthma in the U.S. is more than $56 BILLION. The CDC reports there are more than 3,300 deaths from asthma often when patients skip or skimped on their meds.
“With its high prescription prices, the United States spends far more per capita on medicines than other developed countries. Drugs account for 10 percent of the country’s $2.7 trillion annual health bill, even though the average American takes fewer prescription medicines than people in France or Canada, said Gerard Anderson, who studies medical pricing at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University….”
“Asthma inhalers, for example, are protected by strings of patents — for pumps, delivery systems and production processes — that are hard to skirt to make generic alternatives, even when the medicines they contain are old, as they almost all are….”
“Dr. Dana Goldman, the director of the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California, said: “Producing these drugs is cheap. And yet we are paying very high prices.” He added that because inhalers were so effective at keeping patients out of hospitals, most national health systems made sure they were free or inexpensive.”
“But in the United States, even people with insurance coverage struggle. Lisa Solod, 57, a freelance writer in Georgia, uses her inhaler once a day, instead of twice, as usually prescribed, since her insurance does not cover her asthma medicines. John Aravosis, 49, a political blogger in Washington, buys a few Advair inhalers at $45 each during vacations in Paris, since his insurance caps prescription coverage at $1,500 per year. Sharon Bondroff, 68, an antiques dealer in Maine on Medicare, scrounges samples of Advair from local doctors. Ms. Bondroff remembers a time, not so long ago, when inhalers “were really cheap.” The sticker shock for asthma patients began several years back when the federal government announced that it would require manufacturers of spray products to remove chlorofluorocarbon propellants because they harmed the environment. That meant new inhaler designs. And new patents. And skyrocketing prices.”
We all have bad allergies and two of our kids are affected by asthma brought on by allergies. We have insurance that covers these medicines but I routinely drop $30 to $50 in copays for each inhaler, nose spray and eye drops.
I paid $90 for three different inhalers before we went to New Mexico for fall break because I knew the change in allergens, altitude and weather would affect the girls’ breathing.
My Pataday prescription cost $50 copay for the tiniest bottle of allergy eye drops. My lovely allergist told me to go to Target and buy Zadiator. It’s like $12, and actually works better for me. But there are no options like that for inhalers.
Do your kids suffer from allergies and asthma? Are you having a hard time paying the copays or for the medicine outright? How much do you spend on allergy and asthma medicines?