The PRAXIS Nexus The PRAXIS Nexus

Managing the Cost of Inhalers

Posted on March 25, 2024   |   

This post was written by: Jonnie Korinko, MSRC, RRT, RRT-ACCS.

Three pharmaceutical companies have agreed to cap out-of-pocket costs to $35 in the U.S. The trend began on Thursday, March 7, 2024, when Boehringer Ingelheim, a pharmaceutical company that makes inhalers used for COPD and asthma, announced that it would begin limiting out-of-pocket costs for its inhalers for eligible patients to $35/month. This program will start on June 1, 2024, at retail pharmacies.1 Click here for the full statement and a list of included inhalers.

On Monday, March 18, 2024, AstraZeneca followed suit, issuing a similar statement, with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) issuing their statement on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. All three pharmaceutical companies are limiting out-of-pocket costs for their inhaler medications to $35. Click here for AstraZeneca's statement and list of included inhalers and here for GSK's statement and list of inhalers.

Because of government restrictions, people who use federal government insurance programs, like Medicare, may not get help with co-payments. However, the company will offer free products and assistance programs for people who need them. Insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) will get discounts on inhalers.1

In January, the HELP Senate Committee sent letters to four big drug companies. The committee was worried about inhalers being too expensive and having lower prices in different countries than in the U.S.2 When inhalers cost too much, people who don't have insurance or don't have enough insurance can't get the medicine they need. This makes it more likely for people with COPD and asthma to have breathing problems and flare-ups.

It's common for people to face high prices for inhalers, even if they have insurance coverage. To help lower the cost of prescriptions, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recommend the following five strategies:

  1. Consider generic options for inhalers or other lower-cost options.
    Some medications may be available as generic or less expensive options. Check with a health care provider to see if there are more affordable options for prescribed inhalers.
  2. Research insurance medication plans that provide effective prescription coverage.
    Added coverage may help with the cost of medications during the Medicare Part D coverage gap, also known as the 'donut hole.'
  3. Look into Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs.
    Some pharmaceutical companies offer programs to help make their medications more affordable for people enrolled in Medicare Part D. See if your medication has a program to help with costs here!
  4. See if your state offers Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs.
    Many states offer programs to help with medication costs, including drug plan premiums and other expenses. See your state programs here.
  5. See if you qualify for the Medicare Part D Extra Help program.
    The Extra Help program helps people enrolled in Medicare Part D with a reduced income. Members can apply anytime and benefit from a lower medication cost.

People living with asthma and COPD can save money on their medications using services such as GoodRx, Cost Plus Drugs, and Amazon's RxPass. GoodRx offers coupon codes that can sometimes be less costly than the price with insurance. However, not all retail pharmacies participate in GoodRx, so shopping around is important. Cost Plus Drugs is an online pharmacy that offers medicines at a lower cost than most retail pharmacies. And if you're an Amazon Prime member, you can subscribe to RxPass for just $5 a month and get free shipping on generic medicines. While the list of medicines on RxPass is limited, the company is working to grow the medicines offered.


  1. Boehringer Ingelheim caps patient out-of-pocket costs for its inhaler portfolio at $35 per month. Boehringer Ingelheim. March 7, 2024. Accessed March 8, 2024.
  2. News: Chairman Sanders, Baldwin, Luján, Markey launch help committee investigation into efforts by pharmaceutical companies to manipulate the price of asthma inhalers. Senator Bernie Sanders. January 8, 2024. Accessed March 8, 2024.
  3. 5 ways to get help with prescription costs. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Accessed March 8, 2024.

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