A well-liked bronchial asthma inhaler is being discontinued. Although there’s a generic model, the swap may result in disruptions in care as a result of not all insurance coverage corporations are protecting it.
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
A well-liked bronchial asthma inhaler is being discontinue. The drug known as Flovent will now not be accessible beginning in January. And some sufferers won’t be capable to swap medicine straight away, leaving a spot of their medical care and placing them in danger for issues. NPR prescription drugs correspondent Sydney Lupkin is right here to inform us extra about this. Sydney, how lengthy has Flovent been round?
SYDNEY LUPKIN, BYLINE: So Flovent is a reasonably widespread bronchial asthma inhaler and it has been round because the Nineteen Nineties. It’s made by GSK, and it accommodates a corticosteroid utilized by sufferers 4 and older to forestall bronchial asthma assaults. It does that by decreasing the irritation of their airways to maintain it below management. So it is not an inhaler for emergency bronchial asthma assaults, it is one thing sufferers must take twice a day. Here’s Kenny Mendez, the president and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
KENNETH MENDEZ: Over 10 folks die a day from bronchial asthma yearly, so it is actually necessary to have your bronchial asthma well-controlled. And lots of people do not understand that bronchial asthma could be deadly, so it is actually necessary to just be sure you’re working along with your physician, getting the fitting medicine.
MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, it is actually necessary for some folks. Why is it being discontinued?
LUPKIN: So the corporate, GSK, says it is discontinuing Flovent as a result of it is making its personal generic model as an alternative, and probably saving sufferers cash by doing so. This generic does have a decrease money value than the unique Flovent in line with the web site GoodRx. But whether or not that is really going to decrease sufferers’ prices on the pharmacy counter is extra difficult. This is not a typical generic made by an outdoor firm to compete in opposition to the unique product and finally decrease costs, that is what’s known as a licensed generic. It’s made by the identical firm. Here’s Mendez once more.
MENDEZ: In normal, folks suppose generics ought to be cheaper, proper? I imply, that is form of the widespread data, but it surely actually is dependent upon the formulary and your insurance coverage plan and what’s lined and what’s not.
LUPKIN: So this is the problem with Flovent. In some instances, docs are saying the licensed generic is not lined. Or whether it is, sufferers need to pay extra on the pharmacy counter. So some sufferers might want to swap or get new prescriptions, and that is simply hoops to leap by means of that probably disrupt care.
MARTÍNEZ: So simply to be clear, it is the identical product, proper?
LUPKIN: Right. It’s the identical medicine, similar machine…
LUPKIN: …Made by the identical firm. The most important distinction is that it has a clear slate when it comes to value hikes. I bought some money value information from GoodRx to get a greater look. One Flovent product was round $230 a decade in the past, now it is round $340, so nearly a 50% enhance. And with value hikes like that, it is attainable the drug firm would’ve confronted new penalties aimed toward extreme value hikes. Meanwhile, the licensed generic model has solely been round a 12 months, so it is round $310. So by solely providing this new generic, GSK can promote the drug however and not using a historical past of value hikes.
MARTÍNEZ: All proper. So what can folks do to ensure they nonetheless get their medicine?
LUPKIN: Great query. What docs and medical societies are suggesting is to remember and take motion now. Fill your prescription for Flovent when you nonetheless can. Start speaking to your physician and insurance coverage firm about choices. There are different bronchial asthma medicine if that looks as if your best option for you. Every affected person and each well being plan is completely different. But you might must get the ball rolling along with your insurance coverage on issues like prior authorization, which may take time, so it is best to not wait.
MARTÍNEZ: That’s NPR prescription drugs correspondent Sydney Lupkin. Thanks quite a bit.
LUPKIN: You guess.
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