AstraZeneca to cap inhaler costs, following BI’s lead – and US investigation

18 Mar 2024
Drug Approval
AstraZeneca said Monday it’s capping out-of-pocket costs for US patients who use its asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) inhalers at $35 a month. The cost savings programme follows a similar move from Boehringer Ingelheim, who earlier this month set the same out-of-pocket limit on its inhalers.
Both large pharmas may have been prompted to enact the payment cap after the US Senate launched an investigation into the high cost of inhaled respiratory medicines compared with other countries, such as the UK, Germany, and France.
In January, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee sent letters to AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingelheim, as well as GSK and Teva, requesting documentation on “internal decisions that ensure their inhalers do not face competition and can continue to bring in massive revenues.”
According to the committee, inhalers from the four drugmakers can cost patients between $200 and $600 per month.
The payment caps from Boehringer and AstraZeneca go into effect in June and will affect the UK pharma’s Airsupra (albuterol and budesonide), Bevespi aerosphere (glycopyrrolate and formoterol fumarate), Breztri aerosphere (budesonide, glycopyrrolate, and formoterol fumarate) and Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol fumarate dihydrate). AstraZeneca also announced that it has lowered the list price of Symbicort “substantially.”
“We remain dedicated to addressing the need for affordability of our medicines, but the system is complex and we cannot do it alone,” CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement. “It is critical that Congress bring together key stakeholders to help reform the healthcare system so patients can afford the medicines they need, not just today, but for the future.”
Boehringer’s affected inhalers include Atrovent HFA (ipratropium bromide), Combivent Respimat (ipratropium bromide/albuterol) and Spiriva HandiHaler (tiotropium bromide), Spiriva Respimat (tiotropium bromide), Stiolto Respimat (tiotropium bromide/olodaterol) and Striverdi Respimat (olodaterol).
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