AstraZeneca follows rival, will cap inhaler prices at $35 per month amid scrutiny



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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, and will apply to the company’s entire range of inhaler products used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including inhalers like 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 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.  

The change comes amid increasing attention and criticism about the cost of inhalers. The four major manufacturers— Boehringer Ingelheim, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Teva —are under investigation by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other Democrats for charging Americans significantly more than consumers pay overseas for the same products. 

According to pricing data from the lawmakers, AstraZeneca’s Breztri Aerosphere inhaler costs $645 in the U.S. but just $49 in the U.K. 

“We remain dedicated to addressing the need for affordability of our medicines, but the system is complex and we cannot do it 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,” CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement. 

In a statement, Sanders said he has spoken to the CEOs of all the companies since the investigation launched and called on GlaxoSmithKline and Teva to take similar action.  

“If AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingelheim can cap the cost of inhalers at $35 in the United States, these other companies can do the same,” Sanders said.  

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