Senate Investigation Leads to $35 Cap on Inhaler Costs Senators Sanders and Lujan Issue Statement


U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) joined U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), and HELP Committee members to highlight their three-month investigation into the outrageously high cost of inhalers that resulted in three major companies capping out-of-pocket costs for inhalers at $35.

Chair Sanders and Senators Luján, Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) launched their investigation in January into the largest inhaler manufacturers in the world. Following their investigation, Beohringer Ingelheim, AstraZeneca, and GloxoSmithKline (GSK) all committed to capping the cost of inhalers to no more than $35 at the pharmacy counter. This will significantly cut costs for thousands of New Mexicans with asthma and COPD. These caps represent roughly 75 percent of the inhaler market.

British pharmaceutical giant GSK said it would cap out-of-pocket costs for all its inhaled asthma and chronic lung disease medicines at $35 per month for eligible patients in the United States, following similar moves by two of its rivals.GSK said the decision will take effect by Jan. 1, 2025.The cost cap would apply to all of its asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) medicines, including Advair Diskus, Advair HFA, and Trelegy Ellipta, and would apply to patients whose monthly costs currently exceed $35.

Drugmaker AstraZeneca will cap out-of-pocket costs at $35 for all its inhaler products, the company announced Monday. The cap is effective June 1, 2024 and will apply to the company’s entire range of inhaler products used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including inhalers Symbicort, Breztri Aerosphere and Airsupra. The cap will be applicable for patients who are uninsured or underinsured.

The announcement follows a similar move by rival company Boehringer Ingelheim and comes amid scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers investigations over the cost of inhalers. The companies are also facing scrutiny from federal regulators for anticompetitive practices that can delay lower-cost generics from coming to market.

The Federal Trade Commission recently challenged more than 100 patents as improperly listed in the Food and Drug Administration’s database of patent and exclusivity information, including five of AstraZeneca’s patents on its blockbuster inhaler Symbicort. The company noted it reduced the list price of Symbicort at the start of this year.

“New Mexicans shouldn’t be forced to ration their life-saving medication to make ends meet. Thanks to the investigation from the HELP Committee, three of the largest inhaler manufacturers in the world have committed to capping out-of-pocket costs to $35. This is important progress that will impact millions of Americans who rely on inhalers to breathe,” said Luján. “This means fewer parents worrying if they can afford medication for their children, seniors with COPD can keep up with their families, and New Mexicans can afford their medication without breaking the bank.”

“This is a step in the right direction, but the fight is not over. While these caps impact three of every four inhalers, there are still New Mexicans who face challenges to afford the medication they need to survive,” continued Luján. “I will continue to keep the pressure up to hold these companies accountable and lower costs for our families.”

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