Why is Symbicort So Expensive?
high drug prices
After all, when it costs hundreds of dollars per month for a COPD patient to breathe reliably, that will affect their quality of life.
Symbicort, an effective corticosteroid inhaler, costs just under $400.00 per month in the United States.
Americans who purchase their Symbicort through an international online Canadian pharmacy can save up to 65% on this life-changing medication.
What is Symbicort?
Symbicort (budesonide / formoterol fumarate dihydrate) is a corticosteroid.
Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications and can directly help reduce the lung inflammation associated with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
For asthma and COPD control, patients inhale Symbicort to get the medication where it needs to be as quickly as possible. To make this easier, Symbicort comes in a couple of different forms – including a dry inhalation powder and aerosolized inhaler form.
The active ingredients in Symbicort, budesonide and formoterol fumarate dihydrate, combine to provide quick relief and long-term maintenance against chronic airway diseases. Budesonide reduces painful inflammation, and formoterol fumarate dihydrate helps relax airways, so they widen and allow easier breathing.
After inhaling Symbicort, patients usually feel relief in one to three minutes. The effects last for 12+ hours.
Why Do Patients Use Symbicort?
Doctors prescribe Symbicort to people with asthma or COPD.
COPD is an umbrella term. Many lung diseases, from emphysema to chronic bronchitis, fall into this category. Patients who have either inflammatory condition experience difficulty breathing on occasion.
Asthma, another inflammatory condition resulting in irritated, swollen, and even obstructed airways, can produce a similar result.
Symbicort and other inhaled anti-inflammatory medications can relax inflammation and reduce swelling surrounding irritated airways.
It’s important to note that Symbicort does not prevent or cure these diseases, but it effectively reduces already-existing symptoms to reduce emergencies.
As we mentioned above, Symbicort comes in two forms: In aerosol form, in an inhaler, and as a dry inhalation powder that comes with a Turbuhaler device.
Symbicort Inhaler Price
In America, inhalers are notoriously expensive. (We’ll delve into the reasons why in a moment.)
Patients who need Symbicort in the States pay around $392.00 per inhaler. Each inhaler contains 120 doses (or ‘actuations’), typically lasting about 30 days.
Nearly $400.00 per month is a lot to pay for one medication.
Fortunately, American patients have the option to buy their Symbicort from an international online Canadian pharmacy. Here, through NorthWestPharmacy.com, you can buy one Symbicort Inhaler for about $137.00 (up to 65% savings).
Symbicort Turbuhaler Price
The Symbicort Turbuhaler, or dry inhalation powder plus a specific device for administration, is sold outside of the United States – so American patients typically don’t have access to it.
Here, you can buy the Symbicort Turbuhaler (and its one month of doses) for approximately $104.00.
Of course, Symbicort is not the only inhaled corticosteroid patients can use. Depending on your specific symptoms and health goals, you may be able to consider another medication.
Other Prescription Medications Like Symbicort
Similar inhaled anti-inflammatory medications for patients with asthma or COPD include:
- Advair, a dry powder inhaler (much like the Symbicort Turbuhaler) that can help patients control symptoms of COPD and asthma. It’s usually prescribed for older children and adults because it takes little training to get the administration right. In America, a one-month supply goes for approximately $380.00. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, you can buy a month of Advair for around $75.00 (up to 80% savings).
- Breo Ellipta, a combination therapy giving patients the benefit of a corticosteroid and a long-acting beta-adrenergic agonist. With these ingredients, Breo Ellipta can help a patient’s airway relax. Thirty doses of Breo Ellipta cost $434.00 in America. Alternatively, American patients can buy those same 30 doses of Breo Ellipta from us for around $200.00 (up to 54% savings).
- Combivent is a mist inhaler that, like the Breo Ellipta and Symbicort, is a combination medication. Combivent’s two active ingredients are an anticholinergic and a beta-2 agonist, which relax muscles around swollen, irritated airways. As a result, patients can breathe easier. In America, a one-month supply of Combivent costs $490.00. Through NorthWestPharmacy.com, we have access to a generic version of Combivent that provides similar results for approximately $40.00.
Sky-High Asthma Inhaler Prices: Why is Symbicort So Expensive?
Wondering why inhalers are so wildly expensive in America? There are four main reasons why Symbicort and similar products are so costly.
The American Government Doesn’t Regulate Symbicort Prices
In many countries, a government agency oversees how drug manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies can price their products.
For example, in Canada, an organization called the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (or the PMPRB) is charged by the minister of health and Canadian parliament to make sure that patented drug prices aren’t excessive.
If the PMPRB finds that a drug’s price does seem to be too high, the board will open an investigation, hold a hearing to determine whether the price is excessive, or work with the manufacturer to reduce the price.
This type of government mediation in the pharmaceutical industry is against the law in America.
As a result, drug manufacturers in the United States can charge extremely high prices for their drugs.
Symbicort Prices are Under Patent Protections.
The drug approval process in the United States is long and arduous. (This isn’t unique to the States; getting drugs approved in Canada takes a long time, too.)
In America, once a drug manufacturing company does achieve approval for their new drug, they are awarded patent protection on their new medication.
This essentially functions as a non-compete clause. While that patent is in place, no one else can make another drug that’s too similar.
AstraZeneca, the company that makes Symbicort, still holds various patents on the drug until 2022 and 2029.
While that makes it sound like at least some of the patent protections are about to expire, it’s a little more complicated than that. Even if other companies are free to make similar drugs starting in 2022, it can take more than a decade to get that drug approved.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca can continue to charge as much as they want for their drug.
Climate Change Influences Symbicort Inhaler Prices
In recent years, the FDA has made plans to officially phase out older types of asthma inhalers that contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as part of their propellant system.
This was a response to concerns associated with the effects of CFCs on the ozone layer.
Drug manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies in the United States manufactured inhalers with hydrofluoroalkanes, or HFAs, to replace CFC inhalers.
Unfortunately, these new inhalers are far more expensive than the older ones. In many cases, lower-cost generic drugs with this newer type of propellant still have yet to hit the market.
Each of these factors helps explain why Symbicort is so expensive, but there’s still one piece of the puzzle we haven’t yet discussed.
What about insurance? Shouldn’t people with prescription medication coverage pay lower Symbicort prices?
The Problem with Inhaler Costs and Insurance
There are a couple of significant issues surrounding Symbicort prices and insurance. For example:
Insurance costs are rising, too.
Insurance can help with the cost of doctor visits, prescription drugs, hospital bills, and more – but first, you need to pay to get insurance coverage.
And those costs are getting more expensive, seemingly by the minute.
To mitigate these costs, many Americans are turning to high-deductible health plans, insurance plans that don’t kick in to help cover costs until members hit a certain yearly expense threshold.
For some, that threshold is thousands of dollars, and they never quite meet it – or don’t until the end of the year.
For people in these situations, it could feel like insurance coverage doesn’t begin to help with their high medication costs.
Many insurance companies don’t cover the more expensive drugs.
Or, at least, insurance companies may not cover these drugs reliably.
Some insurance companies will only cover the more affordable generic version of a drug or drop a drug from its list of covered options if its price spikes too steeply.
Patients who require the brand-name version of an expensive drug could face paying the full retail price of their drug very quickly – and sometimes without warning.
Working with insurance can cost you a lot of time and frustration.
Even when working with insurance saves money, it doesn’t always save time. Navigating coverage restrictions can be tricky. Often, insurance companies will make patients go through a lot of hoops before deciding to cover medications.
For example, your insurance company may ask you to prove that you’ve tried lower-cost alternatives before covering a more expensive medication, which might not align with your care plan.
Alternatively, insurance could decide to cover only a specific dose or amount of medication, leaving you paying out-of-pocket to ensure you get the medication you need.
Buying Guide: How You Can Get Symbicort for Less
Fortunately, even though American prices for inhalers are impossibly high, you do have options to reduce your Symbicort prices.
Consider the following:
- Ask your doctor about generic inhalers. Depending on your symptoms and goals, they might not be feasible for you – but it doesn’t hurt to check. There is a generic version of the Symbicort inhaler, which we offer through our site. Your doctor does have to prescribe the generic for you to buy it from a reputable online pharmacy.
- Make sure that your insurance covers your required brand of inhaler. As you’re figuring out which inhaler is best for you, this is a factor to consider. If you and your doctor believe that a specific, not-covered inhaler is appropriate for your symptoms, ask your doctor about submitting a coverage request to your insurance provider.
- Find a safe, reputable international online Canadian pharmacy that consistently offers Symbicort for less. Canadian drug prices aren’t subject to many cost-raising conditions affecting American healthcare. By mail-ordering their required prescriptions from Canada, American patients stand to save significantly, even if they have insurance.
Get a Lower Symbicort Price Through AstraZeneca’s Patient Assistance Program
If you qualify, you may be able to pay less for Symbicort by partnering directly with the company that makes it.
As AstraZeneca’s prescription savings program, AZ&ME, relies on assistance from the company itself and has stringent requirements for eligibility, it probably isn’t a reliable long-term solution. However, it can be worth checking out because those who qualify can receive some Symbicort for free.
You can access the full application checklist right here, but here are some highlights:
- Qualifying patients cannot have insurance coverage for prescription drugs (outside Medicare).
- Those whose annual income exceeds a certain threshold will not qualify.
- Some life-changing events help you qualify for this program. These include a marriage, a job loss, or a documented reduced income.
If you don’t qualify or if something happens to make you ineligible, it’s critical to have a more consistently reliable source of low Symbicort costs.
That’s where an international and online Canadian pharmacy can provide needed support.
Let’s Get You a Lower Symbicort Inhaler Price
If you or a loved one is managing COPD or asthma, you don’t need to deal with unreasonably high prices.
You also need to have the ability to find the best inhaler for your needs. Each option is slightly different, and every person’s experience with COPD and asthma also differs.
Access to a wide range of safe, brand-name medications can be a game-changer for your family.
At NorthWestPharmacy.com, it’s our mission to alleviate the financial burden and stress of dealing with chronic conditions like COPD. We offer incredible customer service, online-only perks like price comparison and educational materials, and low prices on drugs we ship straight to your front door.
Here’s how it works.
Our customer service desk is open seven days a week. Whenever you require assistance with placing an order or need any support at all, we’re here to help. If you’d like to speak with a pharmacist about your prescription, you can do that here, too: Just call in M-F, and one of our pharmacists will be happy to speak with you.
If there’s anything we can do to assist you, please don’t hesitate to let us know. You can call us at 1-866-539-5330 or connect with us online. We look forward to supporting you and your health goals.