Another drug company slashes the cost of drug inhalers

UnSplash +

AstraZeneca is capping the price at $35

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has announced it will cap the cost of all of its inhaler drug products at $35, bowing to pressure on drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs. The cap will take effect June 1.

The cap applies to drugs used to treat asthma, as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The brands included in the cap are Symbicort, Breztri Aerosphere and Airsupra. Insured and uninsured patients will pay the same price.

The announcement follows a setback for AstraZeneca in court last week. AstraZeneca’s lawyers argued in federal court against provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that allows Medicare to negotiate prices for some drugs.

The company’s pitch to the court was that the provisions in that Act were contrary to its right to due process and that it had a rightful entitlement to sell its drugs to the government at prices other than those the government is willing to pay. This week’s announcement appears to be an acceptance of the inevitable.

The legislation allows Medicare to haggle over prices of expensive medications starting in 2026. Medicare’s game plan has been to focus on drugs with no generic competition and pick the most expensive ones first. 

Pricey prescriptions

AstraZeneca has its share of those types of medications. For example, GoodRx says that the AZ-branded version of Farxiga lists at $681.20 per 30-day, 10mg supply. Symbicort – AZ’s inhaler used for asthma and COPD rounds – lists for $515.

But, the one that costs consumers the most is the cancer drug, Tagrisso. The National Library of Medicine lists the price of that drug at $294.68 per 80 mg tablet, meaning that the annual cost of therapy would be $107,557 if patients remained on therapy for a full year.

AstraZeneca is not the first drug company to take this patient-friendly step. It follows a move by drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim that said it will cap the out-of-pocket costs for all its inhalers at $35 per month. The new price also takes effect June 1.

Pressure from Congress

AstraZeneca and other drug companies are under increasing pressure from Congress to address high prices, pointing out that most prescription drugs are much cheaper in other countries than in the U.S.

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said the pricing issue is complex and the industry can’t take it on alone.

“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,”  he said in a statement. 

Find a Hearing Aid partner near you.