White House Unveils Inhaler Price Relief for Asthma Sufferers

April 3, 2024 by Dan McCue
White House Unveils Inhaler Price Relief for Asthma Sufferers
President Joe Biden stands with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., after speaking about lowering health care costs in the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that as a result of administration efforts, three of the four largest inhaler manufacturers will cap the cost of their products at $35 per month for most patients.

“Twenty-seven million Americans have asthma, including 4 million kids, and the reality is, the price of inhalers is way too high for too many Americans,” the president said during an event held in the Indian Treaty Room of the White House.

“Families can pay anywhere from $200 to $650 a month for inhalers … despite the fact it costs less than $5 to make one,” he continued.

Without an affordable backstop to provide emergency relief for asthma symptoms, Americans make more than 1 million emergency room visits every year, and it is estimated that the cost of treating asthma comes to about $50 million every year, Biden said.

Most galling to the president, however, was the fact that since the Food and Drug Administration first approved aerosol drugs to treat asthma in the mid-1950s, the price of inhalers has increased eightfold while the treatment itself has remained fundamentally the same.

He described the situation as “Big Pharma … playing games with patents and pricing.”

“These big companies try to keep generic companies [out of the inhaler market], and one way they do that is by tweaking the mechanism that allows the medicine to get into your body,” Biden said.

“For example, they slightly changed the cap of the inhaler, and they used the new patent on that cap to block generic drug companies from entering the market,” he said.

As a result, the president said, “Big Pharma is able to charge Americans significantly higher prices and pad their prices.”

He noted that one well-known company sells its inhaler for $49 in the United Kingdom, while selling the same product for $645 in the United States; another company, he said, sells its inhaler for $9 in Germany, but for $286 here.

“Same outfit, same device, and yet they charge 30 times more for [it] in the United States,” Biden said. 

“Thirty times more,” he repeated. “It’s outrageous.”

Joining the president at the event was Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and a longtime critic of the nation’s large drug manufacturers.

Together they said that GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingelheim have all announced their intention to cap out-of-pocket costs of inhalers at $35 per month. 

In the case of AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingelheim, the price cap will go into effect on June 1, according to press releases from Sanders’ office.

GlaxoSmithKline, the largest manufacturer of inhaler products in the United States, is slated to begin capping out-of-pocket costs at $35 per month for its asthma and COPD inhalers no later than Jan. 1, 2025. 

The products subject to these caps will include: Advair Diskus, Advair HFA, Anoro Ellipta, Arnuity Ellipta, Breo Ellipta, Incruse Ellipta, Serevent Diskus, Trelegy Ellipta and Ventolin HFA.

“The result of a high cost of prescription drugs is obvious,” Sanders said on Wednesday. “One out of four Americans cannot afford to purchase the prescriptions that their doctors write, and some of them will die.

“Those that don’t will get much sicker than they should, and they’ll wind up in the emergency rooms of hospitals, at great cost to the already overburdened health care system,” the senator continued.

Sanders went on to point out that the high price of prescription drugs is a burden that every taxpayer shares.

“It drives up the cost of Medicaid, Medicare and other public health programs as well as private insurance,” he said.

Despite this, Sanders said, “while politicians have been talking about the high cost of prescription drugs for years, not much has happened.”

“There’s been a lot of talk, but no real progress,” he said. “The drug companies continued to go along their merry way and raise prices anytime they wanted to any level that they wanted for any reason that they wanted.”

Against that backdrop, Wednesday’s announcement on asthma inhaler prices, coupled with other price reductions stemming from the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and other legislation, “is very good news.”

“Despite all that we have accomplished … it is not enough,” Sanders said. “In the State of the Union address, President Biden called on Congress to pass legislation to cap out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for all Americans at no more than $2,000 a year and to substantially increase the number of drugs that can be negotiated with the pharmaceutical industry. I strongly agree,” Sanders said.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

A+
a-
  • asthma
  • inhalers
  • Joe Biden
  • White House
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    White House

    April 13, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    Iran Launches Drone Attack Against Israel

    WASHINGTON – Iran launched a drone against Israel, the Israeli military said Saturday afternoon, in apparent retaliation for a deadly... Read More

    WASHINGTON – Iran launched a drone against Israel, the Israeli military said Saturday afternoon, in apparent retaliation for a deadly Israeli airstrike in early April on the Iranian Embassy complex in Damascus, Syria. President Joe Biden cut short his weekend stay at his vacation home in... Read More

    April 12, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    277,000 More Student Loan Borrowers to Benefit From Biden Debt Relief

    WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced Friday that it is canceling the student loan debt of another 277,000 borrowers as... Read More

    WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced Friday that it is canceling the student loan debt of another 277,000 borrowers as part of a new repayment plan intended to speed relief to those buckling under the load of excessive educational expenses.  The dollar value of the latest... Read More

    April 12, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    President Hosts ‘Historic’ Trilateral Meeting With Japanese, Philippines Leaders

    WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippines President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to the... Read More

    WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippines President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to the White House Thursday afternoon for a trilateral meeting he called the beginning of a “new era of partnership” in the Indo-Pacific. With that, however, Biden wasted... Read More

    Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to Address Congress Amid Skepticism About US Role Abroad

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will head to Capitol Hill on Thursday for an address to U.S. lawmakers meant... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will head to Capitol Hill on Thursday for an address to U.S. lawmakers meant to underscore the importance of keeping a strong partnership between the two countries at a time of tension in the Asia-Pacific and skepticism in Congress about... Read More

    April 10, 2024
    by Dan McCue
    President Celebrates ‘Unbreakable Alliance’ During Japanese Prime Minister’s Visit

    WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden feted his Japanese counterpart Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during the latter’s state visit here on... Read More

    WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden feted his Japanese counterpart Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during the latter’s state visit here on Wednesday, while also announcing a series of moves intended to deepen cooperation between the two nations on several fronts. “The unbreakable alliance between Japan and the... Read More

    Justice Department Blasts GOP Effort to Hold Attorney General Garland in Contempt Over Biden Audio

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Monday blasted Republicans' effort to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt over his refusal... Read More

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department on Monday blasted Republicans' effort to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt over his refusal to turn over unredacted materials related to the special counsel probe into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents. In a letter obtained by The Associated Press,... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top