AstraZeneca Capping Inhaler Costs for Eligible Customers at $35 From June 1

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The new cap will apply to AstraZeneca’s entire range of inhaler products including Symbicort, Breztri Aerosphere, and Airsupra inhalers.

United Kingdom-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has announced it will cap out-of-pocket costs for its inhalers across the United States at $35 for eligible patients.

The big pharma company announced on March 18 that the cap will start from June 1 onward and apply to its entire range of inhaler products for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including Symbicort, Breztri Aerosphere, and Airsupra inhalers.

Only people in the company’s savings programs are eligible, and government restrictions exclude people enrolled in federal government insurance programs. However, some uninsured or underinsured patients are eligible to take advantage of the new price.

According to AstraZeneca’s Chief Executive Officer, Pascal Soriot, this is only the opening move in addressing a much larger issue. The CEO says Congress needs to come to the table and do its part.

“We remain dedicated to addressing the need for affordability of our medicines, but the system is complex and we cannot do it alone,” he said.

“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,” Mr. Soriot added.

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The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), is currently investigating all four major inhaler manufacturers: Boehringer Ingelheim, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, and Teva.

According to Mr. Sanders, and the committee, Americans pay by far the highest prices in the world for inhalers. In other countries, the four big pharma companies sell their products for far less than the price they offer U.S.-based consumers.

Sanders Calls on Big Pharma to Lower Costs for Americans

The HELP committee claims that one of AstraZeneca’s inhalers, Breztri Aerosphere, costs $645 in the United States and only $49 in the United Kingdom. Boehringer Ingelheim’s Combivent Respimat costs $489 in the United States but just $7 in France. At the same time, GlaxoSmithKline’s Advair HFA costs $319 in the United States and $26 in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, Teva’s QVAR RediHaler costs $286 in the United States and $9 in Germany.

Following AstraZeneca’s announcement, Mr. Sanders applauded the decision and called on the other two big pharma companies to lower the price of their inhalers too.

“This is a very positive step which will help save Americans thousands of dollars a year on the inhalers they need to breathe,” he said.

“Today, I am calling on the two other major manufacturers of inhalers—GlaxoSmithKline and Teva—to take similar action. If AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingelheim can cap the cost of inhalers at $35 in the United States, these other companies can do the same,” Sen. Sanders added.

It is estimated that over 260 million people around the world have asthma, including roughly 25 million individuals in the United States. Every year, there are at least 10 million asthma exacerbations reported across the country. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is also a common lung disease, with an estimated 16 million Americans living with the condition. It causes restricted airflow and breathing problems.

“The Senate HELP Committee will continue to do everything we can do to make sure that Americans no longer pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs,” Mr. Sanders said.

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