On Jan. 8, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee announced an investigation into the pricing of asthma inhalers. The HELP Committee sent letters to the four largest manufacturers of these medicines to determine what is driving the high cost of these life-saving treatments.
AAFA supports this effort. Here is our full statement:
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) applauds the U.S. Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee for addressing the high costs of asthma inhalers. The asthma community needs solutions to improve access to critical, life-saving medication.
There are 27 million people in the United States with asthma and 10 people die each day from this disease. Asthma is a disease that can be controlled, and deaths from asthma can be prevented. Asthma prevalence and mortality disproportionately impacts seniors, women, people who have low-income or low-wealth, and people who are Black, Hispanic, or Indigenous.
The action announced by the Senate HELP committee on January 8, 2024, opens an opportunity to address what patients report as the primary reason why people don’t adhere to their asthma treatment: The cost of prescribed asthma medication. When people can’t afford their asthma medicines, they may have to make difficult decisions between other life necessities and continuing asthma treatment.
The U.S. drug pricing system is complicated. Pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers, insurance companies, employers, and federal policies can create situations that drive up costs and reduce access to critical medications.
AAFA is hopeful that the Senate HELP Committee investigation into inhaler prices is a starting point for a national conversation on asthma costs and burden. Ultimately, we need action that will begin to break down barriers to access and make asthma medicines affordable for U.S. patients.
AAFA President and CEO Kenneth Mendez on the Importance of This Issue
“Ten people die each day from asthma. With appropriate treatment, asthma is a disease that can be controlled,” said AAFA president and CEO Kenneth Mendez. “AAFA applauds the Senate HELP Committee for addressing the high costs of asthma inhalers. Access to these medications can save lives, reduce hospitalizations, and lower the more than $82 billion in annual costs to the U.S. economy from this chronic disease.”
AAFA: A Trusted Voice for Patients
AAFA shared the patient perspective with the HELP Committee and research from AAFA helped inform the committee’s investigation framework.
One of the AAFA reports cited in letters sent to drug manufacturers highlights disparities in asthma treatment and outcomes.
“AAFA’s Asthma Disparities in America report reveals that asthma disproportionately affects seniors, women, people who have low-income or low-wealth, and people who are Black, Hispanic, or Indigenous,” said AAFA chief mission officer Melanie Carver, a co-author of the report.
This investigation is an opportunity to highlight the burden of asthma borne by patients and families. It’s also important to address the systemic inequality driving unequal outcomes in our health care system.”
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