Generic Albuterol In The U.S.? Finally!

This falls under the category of FINALLY!

For those of you who think inhalers are expensive, raise your hand. For those of you who have to buy multiple inhalers each month for different family members, raise your other hand.

Both of my hands are in the air!

We are at the pharmacy a lot

We are a family of 5, and 4 of us have asthma. That means we are the pharmacy each month buying controller inhalers and occasionally,  rescue inhalers (Albuterol inhalers.)

Controller inhalers have to be taken every day to keep the swelling down in your lungs, and rescue (or reliever) inhalers are used when you are sick or have an asthma flare-up. Albuterol inhalers only offer temporary relief, for 4-6 hours. In fact, Asthma Doc always would tell us that Albuterol is just a band-aid approach - it will just buy you time until you get the swelling down in your lungs.

So, for our family, needing multiple inhalers each month for all of us can really add up. Even though we have to get a new controller inhaler each month, we don't need to refill a rescue inhaler that often. In fact - if you are refilling your rescue inhaler more than twice a year, your asthma is considered uncontrolled.

The rules of two

The "Rules of Two" states that your asthma is uncontrolled if:

  • If you have asthma symptoms or take your quick reliever inhaler more than TWO times per week
  • Awaken with asthma symptoms more than two times per month
  • Refill your quick reliever inhaler more than two times per year

Which makes it exciting that a generic Albuterol inhaler is being released in the U.S.  It's expected to cost less than $36. The company says:

"The authorized generic contains the same medicine, with the same instructions for use as Ventolin HFA, however it will have a list price or Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC) less than $36. This represents at least a 35% reduction to the current WAC price of branded Ventolin and potentially a lower cost alternative to the patient, depending on a patient’s insurance coverage."

Some countries already have generic Albuterol inhalers. My friend in Canada (and fellow asthma writer) was shocked that we DIDN'T have a generic version here yet, since they already have one.

In the U.S, there are many people with high deductibles who have to pay the entire cost of an Albuterol inhaler. A quick search on a website that lists the cash price of different medications show Albuterol inhalers cost anywhere from $29-$71 (depending on the pharmacy.) So, having a generic version should be helpful for most of us and our budgets.

Albuterol isn't affordable

I often hear of families who can't afford more than one Albuterol inhaler, so they share it. There will be several family members in one school with asthma, and mom will keep the inhaler with her at work. The school will have to call the mom to bring the inhaler for one of her kids to use. Not the best idea, considering every minute counts when you are having an asthma flare. And Albuterol is a prescription, and you can't legally use someone else's prescription.

Hopefully, a generic version of Albuterol will help families be able to afford an inhaler for each child that needs it.


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