Environmental issues leading to soaring costs for asthma inhalers: research

Dennis Thompson
Health Day Reporter

Monday, May 11, 2015 (HealthDay News)-Due to federal action to protect the ozone layer asthma Inhalers in recent years, according to new research.

In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned asthma An inhaler containing chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), a substance that contributes to the destruction of the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere.

Average cost immediately after the ban asthma Dr. Anupam Jena, an assistant professor of healthcare policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said inhalers rose from $ 13.60 per prescription in 2004 to $ 25 in 2009.

“At peak times, we’re talking about a 100% increase and a doubling of out-of-pocket costs,” Jena said.

Cost asthma Inhalers declined slightly in the months that followed, averaging $ 21 by the end of 2010, Jena said. Since then, their prices have been around that level.

According to Jena, the price of inhalers has skyrocketed as manufacturers have replaced established, cheaper generic CFC inhalers with more expensive branded inhalers, including hydrofluoroalkanes (HFAs).

Both CFCs and HFAs act as propellants that deliver drugs deeper. lung Of people with asthma..The· asthma The drugs contained in both types of inhalers examined in this study Salbutamol, Improve Breathing By dilating the airways.

Asthma attacks constrict a person’s airways, making it difficult to breathe, Wheezing, cough And Chest tightness..Inhaler including Salbutamol It is often referred to as a “rescue” device because it relieves these symptoms almost instantly.

Researchers have found that price increases are associated with a slight reduction in asthma inhaler use. The reduction reached about 5 percent, in relation to an average of $ 10 in patient out-of-pocket costs.

“This is a series of medications that asthma patients really need to use,” Jena said. “That may be the reason why we didn’t see a significant drop in usage, despite a significant increase in out-of-pocket costs.”

The researchers also said that there was no increase in hospitalization due to asthma, probably because most people ate extra costs and continued to buy and use inhalers. However, the authors of the study added that it is not clear how the increased costs affected uninsured people.

The FDA has banned CFC inhalers as a result of the 1987 Montreal Protocol. Under the Protocol, 26 countries have agreed to reduce the use of ozone-depleting substances globally.

New study published online on May 11th JAMA Internal MedicineIs the first attempt to assess the impact of the ban on the out-of-pocket costs of albuterol inhalers, the authors said.

This study did not include information on the cost of another type of asthma drug affected by FDA regulations-inhalation Corticosteroid.. According to the American Academy of Asthma, people with asthma use these drugs to reduce airway inflammation and prevent asthma attacks. Allergies, Asthma and immunology. These are often referred to as prophylactic or controller drugs.

In the current study, researchers draw conclusions from pharmacies and medical claims filed in 77 private health insurance policies in the United States between 2004 and 2010. This study does not contain information about people without health insurance.

A cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco JAMA Internal Medicine..

“I don’t think anyone claims that this is good for the environment, as there are so few CFCs involved,” said Redberg, who wrote the editorial that accompanies the new study.

Redberg himself recently experienced the impact of price increases. She went to prescribe her daughter’s asthma and found that her out-of-pocket costs jumped from the usual $ 10 or $ 20 to $ 40.

“I was shocked that what used to be a cheap generic drug is now only available as an expensive branded drug,” she wrote in an editorial. “The pharmacist explained to me that only branded salbutamol inhalers are available and need to be filled with branded inhalers.”

Redberg believes that public pressure needs to be exerted to force the FDA to remove the brand name status currently held by HFA asthma inhalers.

The FDA allows pharmaceutical companies to charge more for branded drugs, giving them the opportunity to recoup their R & D costs. But in this case, it doesn’t make sense, she said.

“It’s not a new drug,” Redberg said. “It’s a drug that has been available for years. They just changed the delivery system from CFC to HFA.”

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And in her editorial, Redberg wrote about FDA regulations: “The goal was not to increase drug profits, but to have clean air.”

Meanwhile, people with asthma may consider switching to health insurance if possible, Jena said. Some insurance companies offer medicines for chronic illnesses for free or at a significantly reduced out-of-pocket cost, and managing health problems is cheaper than rushing and expensive hospitalization. I think it is.

“There’s not much that an individual can do other than change their health insurance, which many people are unlikely to do,” he said.

Copyright © 2015 Health Day. all rights reserved.

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Source: Anupam Jena, MD, Ph.D. , Associate Professor of Health Policy and Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Rita Redberg, MD, M.Sc. , Cardiologist, University of California, San Francisco, Editor-in-Chief, JAMA Internal MedicineMay 11, 2015, JAMA Internal Medicine,online

Environmental issues leading to soaring costs for asthma inhalers: research

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