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“Health Care Ought to Be a Right”: President Biden Celebrates Lower Inhaler Costs for Millions of Americans

By April 3, 2024No Comments

Washington, D.C. — Today, President Biden hosted an event to celebrate lower inhaler costs, which have been under scrutiny for years. More than 27 million people across the country have asthma, which disproportionately impacts low-income Americans, seniors, Black Americans, Latinos, and American Indians and Alaska Natives, and the cost of inhalers has soared to as much as $600 per month — putting the lifesaving medication out of reach for families struggling to make ends meet.

President Biden and Democrats have taken on Big Pharma and won. In January, Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, led by Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and Ed Markey (D-MA), launched an investigation to determine why drugmakers charge Americans far more for inhalers than people in other countries. For example, Teva charges Americans with asthma $286 for its QVAR RediHaler — which costs just $9 in Germany. The FTC recently cracked down on drug companies that use improper patents to keep the price of inhalers too high. In response, two drugmakers have capped out-of-pocket costs for some top-selling inhalers at $35 per month. 

These actions to lower the cost of inhalers build on the Inflation Reduction Act’s measures to lower the cost of prescription drugs, which will especially help people with chronic illnesses like asthma. The landmark law caps seniors’ insulin costs at $35 per month and total out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 per year, stops price hikes outpacing inflation, makes vaccines available for free, and lowers premium costs for people purchasing coverage on their own. Right now, the Biden administration is negotiating with drug companies for lower prices under the Inflation Reduction Act’s Medicare Negotiation Program. Just yesterday, the Biden administration announced it responded to drugmakers’ counter offers and will continue to negotiate for lower prices.

In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued the following statement: 

“Thanks to President Biden and Democrats in Congress, Americans can breathe easier knowing they can afford the prescriptions they need. The outrageous cost of inhalers exemplifies why we need the Inflation Reduction Act and other measures to rein in drug prices for hardworking families. While Democrats have been laser-focused on lowering costs, Republicans are proposing to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act and roll back all of this progress in order to line the pockets of big drug companies. 

“After years of drugmakers hiking the cost of inhalers and making them unaffordable for patients, people are finally getting some relief. We must build on this momentum and continue the work of making lifesaving medications affordable for everyone in this country.”