Are your kids’ asthma medicines too pricey?

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.

From The New York Times:

“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?

19 comments Add your comment


October 16th, 2013
6:23 am

Stop compalin cuz when Obamacare get here they willl put UR kid on the death panal and I no how those libtards thing and they would let UR kid die

Who let the dogs in

October 16th, 2013
6:46 am

So you are upset at having to make up to $50 in copayments for your children’s medication, yet have no trouble spending $20 on an ounce of wrinkle cream?

Damn you are selfish.


October 16th, 2013
7:46 am

Most medications are outrageous if there isn’t a generic. And of course it’s frustrating when there simply isn’t a generic to choose. Do you have an option for a mail order service or Costco? Our co-pays this year are the same for a 90-day supply at XpressScripts as a 30-day supply at a retail place.

We found out the other day our insurance next year is going to have a $7k deductible which means we’ll be paying for all of our medical care out of pocket. I know I should be thankful that we don’t have medical issues that will cost us more than $7k a year but it’s still frustrating to pay crazy premiums and get nothing in return… I guess it’s more like car insurance. [sigh] In trying to calculate how much to put into our HSA next year, I compared our Rx costs at XpressScripts (mail order) vs. Costco. Costco was actually cheaper or equivalent and you don’t need a membership at Costco to use their pharmacy.

Oh, by the way, our premiums are essentially the same for next year for a HDHP with a $7k deductible as they are for this year on a $1,000 deductible PPO. Yah! I’m so excited for this change. [banging head on desk]


October 16th, 2013
9:33 am

i don’t have children but i have asthma. with insurance advair is a $35 co pay for me, without insurance it’s $350; luckily singulair came off patent and is now a generic. singular generice with insurance is $10 copay, without insurance it’s a $70. when i was without insurance while unemployed i called pharmacies to find out what the cost was for a 30 day draw of the generic for singulair. i was shocked that most pharmacies are $200/mo. kroger was $70/mo. also, i always ask my doctor for samples as they have so many samples. when i was unemployed for 7 mos, my doc gave me samples of advair and my rescue inhailer. one month i went without my asthma meds and ended up with a horrible lung and bronchial infection that i could hardly breathe. using the meds as prescribed is needed to remain healthy. also flu shot and pneumonia shot are always needed as well to keep on breathing.

@techmom – wow i didn’t know you didn’t need to be a member to use costco’s pharmacy. thanks for info.


October 16th, 2013
9:36 am

Jusst be glad to have insurance. Our boss put us on as contractors so we lost all benefits including our insurance. Just last week my hubby had slight eye infection. Went to the DR and paid $80 for the visit. The pharmacy charged $115 for a bottle of drops with litterally a few drop in it and $36 for the antibiotic so it cost us $231 plus a day of pay lost :(


October 16th, 2013
9:39 am

Theresa, like Techmom says, see if you can get 90-day supplies thru mail-order. With my insurance if it is a medication that you order monthly we have to use the mail-order system. Works for me for the convenience and the prices. For the every-once-in-a-while meds, I check the prices against the pharmacy and then decide how I want to purchase and whether I need a 3 month’s supply on hand. Since you probably want your asthma medication on hand you may want to check into the 90-day supply. Considering, too, that you have a lot of things on your plate it is one less thing you have to deal with. You can have the meds put on auto-refill and a credit card on file and presto! Meds come in the mail every 3 months. It has been a God-send for me with all the meds I take.

Also, you may want to see if your doctor has coupons. I know it is not the same but my dermatologist has coupons for every med that she prescribes that is very expensive. For example I got a med for $10 that would have had a $390 copay. (Clearly I would never have clear skin if it cost that much for a cream!!!) All I had to do was call and get a coupon activated. Some drug companies send out coupons and maybe doctors don’t pass them out unless you ask for them. So you might want to check to see. A lot of commercials come on for a number of drugs that say you can get help paying for certain drugs if you cannot afford them. The ones you all take may be on “the list”.


October 16th, 2013
10:24 am

Too pricey compared to what? Gold? What you think you should pay?


October 16th, 2013
10:27 am

Off Topic
Theresa, did you know this about your current hometown? This news development makes the rural desert rats look tame…if you ask me, and of course, no one ever asks me.

“Phoenix, AZ is the kidnapping capital of the United States, second only worldwide to Mexico City.”

Be Afraid, be VERY Afraid.


October 16th, 2013
10:39 am

Sort of related…you can get pet meds at Costco and they are a LOT less expensive. They do not carry everything but can order it. I have been happy with their service. We are lucky to be related to a Pharmacist and he can check out what is the best option for meds. It has helped my husband a lot. I take NO prescription drugs yet. Not sure how long that will last :).


October 16th, 2013
10:45 am

Blame the EPA for banning generic asthma inhalers, in order to “protect” the ozone.


October 16th, 2013
11:16 am

We have a couple of friends who always get their meds outside the country while travelling and simply put them in their luggage and don’t declare them.

MJG – we order our petmeds (nothing crazy, just Frontline and Heartguard) from a company in Australia. No Rx required and much cheaper.


October 16th, 2013
12:19 pm

jmb, Your employer can’t just designate you as a contractor. That’s against the law. There are some very specific rules around what constitutes a contractor. For instance, Have you worked for only this company for the last 13 montsh? Do you set your own hours or do they? Are you free to work for other companies? Do you use your own tools?

Visit this site if you have been mistreated.

Department of Labor is completely confidential if you want it to be.


October 16th, 2013
12:45 pm

Shop around. Costco does NOT require membership to use their pharmacy. A friend of mine uses Costco for certain meds because it’s cheaper. Good to know you found a sub. for the Pataday. My DH stopped using it because of the co-pay cost.


October 16th, 2013
12:48 pm

FYI…I LOVE Costco. I have an Executive Membership. Costs me $110.00 per year. I got back $94.00 in an annual rebate from my shopping. How CAN you not like it?


October 16th, 2013
1:03 pm

I prefer to pay $240 in copays and $240 to doctor ($480 out of pocket annual) than to pay to help insure the 18 million people that the government is forcing me to pay. Especially since I will still pay the $480 or more out of pocket PLUS an increase in my insurance rates.


October 16th, 2013
1:33 pm

What I find interesting is how changing locales affected your (and kiddos) allergies/asthma. I have allergies year round and went for a 2 week visit to Seattle and had no problems with it (and I was surprised at how many growing/blooming things I was exposed to daily). We also had a fire at our place in March (when things start blooming/growing) so we weren’t living here during spring.


October 16th, 2013
1:59 pm

Jarvis, been here as office manager for 20 years. Even sign the company checks. Not something most contractors do for sure. Hours are reduced but still expected to be here at a certain time. I’ve talked to DOL since he’s about to close the doors but they weren’t any help. Just informed me that I didnt qualify for unemployment due to my contractor status.


October 16th, 2013
3:16 pm

Misty, you won’t have allergic reactions to things you haven’t been exposed to previously, but if you have allergies, there’s a good chance you would develop allergies those new things over time. My allergies in my current location were fairly mild the first year or two I lived here, but got worse over time. If you lived in Seattle for a couple of years, you’d probably get all sneezy again.


October 17th, 2013
1:07 pm

jmb, you may need to have a chat with a labor lawyer. Of course, once the labor lawyer has a chat with your employer, you probably won’t have a job, either . . .