Asthma afflicts roughly 24 million Americans of all ages. It’s a condition that is usually associated with childhood, but people of all ages suffer from it. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Asthma is a condition where one’s airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.” To say that this condition can be uncomfortable is putting it mildly. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Asthma-related issues cause 2 million emergency room visits each year with an average stay being 3.6 days. There are 3,630 asthma related deaths each year.
Asthma sufferers are among the millions of Americans who have to take prescription medications to manage a chronic condition. Like millions of other Americans, people suffering from asthma are overcharged for their prescription medications. Asthma medications, just like other drugs can have their prices changed at the will of the manufacturer. However, the price of Asthma inhalers in particular has increased, in part, by a combination of a landmark environmental agreement and a quirk of the law.
In 1987 26 countries agreed to the Montreal Protocol which sought to reduce substances which deplete the ozone layer, one of those substances was chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). A common use for CFCs was as a propellant in inhalers. In 1996, hydrofluoroalkane (HFA), an ozone-safe propellant was developed. As the number of products using HFA became more common, the FDA announced inhalers containing CFCs would no longer be legal as of the end of 2008.
After CFCs were banned in favor of new propellants, inhalers needed to be redesigned to ensure they were still providing the same dose of medication as they did previously. This redesign permitted drug makers to re-patent old medications and get a new period of exclusivity. Nothing about the medication itself had changed, only the delivery method. This allowed manufacturers to increase their prices and continue to prevent competition from generic equivalents.
Asthma medications are already very pricey. For example at GoodRx.com, Advair and Symbicort are priced between $420 and $350 per inhaler, which is roughly a one-month supply, respectively. As high deductible health insurance plans become more common in the U.S. more people are going to be facing a greater burden in order to pay for their prescription drugs. Unfortunately asthma is not a temporary condition but requires continuous use of medication to manage.
Too many people have had to ration their medication usage, or have stopped taking their medication altogether, due to the high cost of their drugs. Canada Drugs offers a wide range of medications for asthma sufferers and provides them at a significant savings over local US prices.