Price of Asthma Drugs Soars

Oct 14, 2013

Elisabeth Rosenthal of The New York Times, who has been chronicling the reasons why health care in America costs at least twice as much as in other developed countries, turns her attention to drugs. Here she looks at how the manufacturers of asthma drugs and inhalers have maneuvered to protect high prices that bring huge profits -- even as the same drugs and devices sell for only a few dollars in Europe.

When experts analyze why this country's health-care outcomes are worse than others' despite spending several times as much money per person, one answer among several that emerges is that companies can command the prices they want without interference from government, no matter how high.

In the case of asthma, high prices push up the co-pays for drugs and the premiums for insurance, and as a result many patients have cut back on medication or gone without. For example, a nasal spray that costs $250 here costs $7 in Europe.

In Florida, according to 2012 data from CDC, about 12 percent of adults report having had asthma at some point, while about 7 percent had it at the time of the survey.