Being asthmatic just got more expensive


Feeling wheezy? Asthma attack coming on? Reaching for that inhaler? Let's stop and think about the CPP (cost per puff). Oh, it may not seem like much now, but that will all change soon.

The cost of an albuterol inhaler is going to nearly triple, due to the repatenting of the propellant used in the most common drugs used to reduce the inflamation associated with an asthma attack.

Traditionally, the propellant used in most inhalers (and many other day-to-day items and appliances) were CFCs, which were found to be detrimental to the ozone. Although CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) were phased out of other products, they remain in prescription inhalers. That's all about to change, however, and the new propellant, HFA-134a, has been used in part to re-patent the inhaler design, which went generic (and became affordable) back in 1989.

For people with decent health insurance, this doesn't mean much, but for people who pay out-of-pocket for medicine, this is going to be a big hit in the wallet. The difference between $13.50 and $39.50 is striking, especially for people who use more than one inhaler per month.

As Sydney Spiesel from says:

This makes me wonder about the balance of harms—what are the consequences of the CFCs dumped in the atmosphere by 52 million puffers compared with the asthmatics who will no longer able to pay for their medication? I don't know much about the contribution of asthma puffers to the atmospheric burden, but I have strong suspicions about the effects of the financial burden. The hike to $39.50 will cost about $1.35 billion more a year. That could mean less for daily necessities for some people without insurance, and less of other medications or care for some of the insured.

I'm not saying that you'll be better off going up to Canada or down to Mexico to purchase your inhalers in bulk, but... oh, wait. Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.

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