Inhaler Corporations Must Be Held Accountable for Ripping Off Vermonters and the American People

Dear Fellow Vermonter,

25 million Americans, and 68,000 Vermonters, with asthma rely on inhalers in order to help them breathe. This is a life-or-death issue for many of them. 

Yet, in order to get a product they desperately need, these patients are forced to pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for their inhalers.

That is why this week, as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), I launched an investigation into the four biggest manufacturers of inhalers sold in the U.S. — AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and Teva. They must be held accountable for charging the American people inhaler prices that are often 10 to 20 times higher than what they charge in other countries. 


There is absolutely no reason for these products to be so expensive, other than corporate greed.
The devices have been available since the 1950s and most of the drugs they use have been on the market for more than 25 years. In other countries, the exact same products are sold for far less. For example:

  • One of AstraZeneca’s inhalers, called Breztri Aerosphere, costs $645 in the U.S. But what does it cost in the United Kingdom? Just $49.

  • One of Boehringer Ingelheim’s inhalers, called Combivent Respimat, costs $489 in the U.S. But what does it cost in France? Just $7.

  • One of GSK’s inhalers, called Advair HFA, costs $319 in the U.S. But what does it cost in the United Kingdom? Just $26.

  • One of Teva’s inhalers, called QVAR RediHaler, costs $286 in the U.S. But what does it cost in Germany? Just $9.

These outrageously high prices force patients, especially the uninsured and underinsured, to ration doses or abandon their prescriptions altogether. The results are predictable and devastating. Without consistent access to inhalers, people with asthma and COPD are more likely to get sick, to be hospitalized, and to die. Asthma alone kills 3,500 people every year, and nearly all of these deaths are preventable with regular treatment and affordable care. Not only that, but low-income Americans are the most likely to have asthma and COPD and the least likely to be able to afford the inhalers they need to breathe.

If you think this is unacceptable, you would be exactly right! Those prices are only possible in the U.S. because of the power of the pharmaceutical industry and their ability to prevent legislation that would control the cost of prescription drugs. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry makes huge profits. In the past five years, AstraZeneca, GSK, and Teva made more than $25 billion in revenue from inhalers alone. 

As Chairman of the HELP Committee, I am working hard to push these companies to lower their prices. As part of that effort, it would be helpful for my staff to hear from Vermonters about their experiences paying these very high prices for inhalers. If you are a Vermonter who has been impacted by this issue and are interested in sharing your story with us, you can do so by clicking here.




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