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Asthma Costly to Treat and Manage

Katie Sullivan
The disparities in the costs of care are obvious and just one of the reasons reform is needed in healthcare. For those managing chronic conditions like asthma, prescription drug costs seem to only be rising.
The disparities in the costs of care are obvious and just one of the reasons reform is needed in healthcare. For those managing chronic conditions like asthma, prescription drug costs seem to only be rising. That high cost of care can impact medication adherence and a patient’s ability to effectively treat their disease.

Currently, asthma is the most common chronic diseas in America, affecting an estimated 40 million nationally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the annual cost of asthma in the United States is more than $56 billion, which includes millions of potentially avoidable hospital visits and more than 3300 deaths caused by patients who skipped or missed necessary medications.

“Our regulatory and approval system seems constructed to achieve high-priced outcomes,” said Dr Peter Bach, the director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “We don’t give any reason for drug makers to charge less.”

Pharmaceuticals account for 10% of the $2.7 trillion annual health costs in the US. The excessive costs of care in the US can be attributed to the free market competition that exists among pharmaceutical companies. Asthma medication delivery devices such as inhalers and pumps can be difficult to make genetic alternatives for, so they often are most costly. Even when generic medications are factored in, they still cost more than in other countries.

“The high prices in the US are because the FDA has set the bar so high that there is no clear pathway for generics,” said Ms Lisa Urquhart of EvaluatePharma.

Patents and long-argued debates about the cost to develop or test new drugs have often supported the costs of branded prescriptions. However, some pharmacists are optimistic that health insurance will pick up the bulk of costs for many consumers. In fact, Juan Carlos Molina, the director of external communication for GlaxoSmithKline, which makes Advair, said that the prices of their medicines were “closely linked to this country’s model for delivery of care.”

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