Cost of albuterol Triples!

#1 Tim

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02 April 2007 - 11:11 AM

Cost of albuterol inhalers set to triple in 2008

Mar 30, 2007 - The cost of albuterol asthma inhalers in the USA is set to triple after 2008, when inhalers that release environmentally damaging chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) will be banned, say researchers.

Leslie Hendeles (University of Florida, Gainesville, USA) and team explain that albuterol is the most widely used drug for short-term relief of symptoms related to bronchospasm in patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

After 2008, CFC propellants in albuterol inhalers will be replaced by hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) propellants. The researchers estimate that HFA inhalers will cost three times as much as CFC inhalers, at least until generic versions become available.

Hendeles et al report that Americans will need to spend an additional US$1.2 billion (€900 million) a year on the three patented inhaler brands containing HFA propellants. Cheaper, generic versions will probably not be available until after 2012.

Patients who pay for their medication will probably be hit hardest, paying on average $312 (€233) more per year. But the healthcare bills of all inhaler users will likely be higher for at least a few years as a result of the ban.

Hendeles et al conclude after reviewing previous research that the HFA inhalers are as effective as CFC inhalers, but do differ in some important ways. For example, only one of the three brands of HFA inhaler has a counter to show users how many doses they have left.

“There isn’t any reliable way of estimating when they’re going to run out,” said Hendeles.

The researchers also mention in the New England Journal of Medicine that some HFA inhalers tend to clog more easily than CFC inhalers. Patients must therefore remove their metal canisters once a week and clean the plastic actuators with warm water.

Two brands of HFA inhaler also contain ethanol, and so may not be appropriate for some patients due to their religious beliefs.

Hendeles added: “There will undoubtedly be some people who are absolutely certain [the HFA inhaler] doesn’t work as well,” but he stressed that patient education is the key to proper care.

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#2 Dee

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02 April 2007 - 02:30 PM

Now that you have mentioned Albuterol, Tim, I had read to use my rescue inhaler about 20 minutes before exercise. I was just wondering if anyone else did that . It seems to make a big difference if I use it first.


#3 Guest_Wheezer_*

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02 April 2007 - 09:53 PM

Well, wouldn't you know that Big Pharma would find a way to cash in on Albuterol. Maddening it is! There are so very many other sources of air destruction that are so very much more harmful than our inhalers yet they choose to go after the much needed medicines. Better to pick our pockets than that of big biz, I guess. Grrrrrrr!!!! :) Priorities??

I just read an article about how the med companies are excited about tapping into the "uptapped market" of COPD patients. They were discussing that COPD is moving to the 3rd spot as diseases that are killing people and since it is largely undiagnosed, the pharma co's consider this a new and untapped market so they are gearing up to tap into the wallets of COPD'ers. It makes me grateful for places like ADC.

Dee, I have used my rescue prior to exercise and found it quite helpful. However, since being put on the combo of Advair and Spiriva, I have found that I rarely even use my rescue.

#4 Tim

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03 April 2007 - 09:18 AM

Now that you have mentioned Albuterol, Tim, I had read to use my rescue inhaler about 20 minutes before exercise. I was just wondering if anyone else did that . It seems to make a big difference if I use it first.


Hi. Dee,

In the past I always used Albuterol A few Min's before exercising but never with-in 30 Min's
or so after using my Advair. I'm not the expert here and I would ask Jane or Eileen to hop
in on this one but I have been told many times about watching the sequencing of my meds.
I have been told never to use Albuterol 2 hours before taking my Advair and not to use it for
30 Min's after the Advair. As I understand it, they can cancel out each other. Like Kasey, I very
seldom need to use the Albuterol now that I have switched to Speriva along with the Advair.

#5 Guest_Eileen/MA_*

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03 April 2007 - 01:28 PM

I take albuterol prior to exercising, too. I am not so worried about the sequencing of the meds because my pulmo doc said that they all target different receptors for various effects. But it usually works out that I don't take them within a few hours of each other except in the morning.

#6 Jane M. Martin


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04 April 2007 - 09:42 AM

Eileen is right. When taking inhalers that open the airways in different ways, acting upon different receptors, you don't have to worry about taking them close together, time-wise.

Corticosteroids, such as Flovent and Pulmicort work differently than Spiriva or Albuterol, so they don't compete with each other when it comes to grabbing onto their intended receptors. This is why many of you are on more than one medication, and the combination meds like Advair and Combivent contain more than one medication. Think of it like this: Different keys open different locks. If you're trying to get into your car, the house key won't work. Wasn't meant to.

There is a nice color poster, picturing all the inhaled meds. They are separated into their categories and looking this over can be helpful in understanding all of this. If anybody would like me to send them a copy, just email me privately with your street address and I'll send one out to you.

Pre-treating about 20 minutes before exercise with your albuterol does help. Athletes with asthma do that all the time.

As far as the cost of the new HFA inhalers goes, yes, that's a lot of money and too bad that the patients are being hit so hard. Any time something is new, it is more costly and the price goes down after a while. But, I know, that doesn't help right now!

Always check with your doctor about getting free samples, and ask your local community health center or social services if there are any medication assistance programs in your area. Sometimes churches have programs to help people get meds at a little or lower cost.

I hope this helps.
Jane. :D

#7 Guest_Tippy_*

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07 April 2007 - 02:53 PM

Hi all,

I hate to see yet another price increase in meds. I do not use my albuterol often since beginning Advair and Spirva ...... it makes me cough. The Advair sometimes causes me to have a rapid heart beat........ 120 or so. I've been thinking of asking my Pulmo about switching meds. ..........Tippy

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