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Lowering the Costs of Asthma Treatment

Asthma treatment has made great strides, but good care is costly. Here are ways to get some help.

Safer Ways to Lower Drug Costs

Medications are the biggest expense for people with asthma, says Bernstein. But there are ways of lowering your cost.

  • Ask your health care provider and your pharmacist about taking generic medicines instead of brand name drugs. Although there are a limited number of generic asthma medicines available, they can be substantially cheaper, says Mayrides.
  • If you have health insurance, look into mail order prescription plans, recommends Bernstein. "You can sometimes save quite a bit of money with mail order," Bernstein tells WebMD. "For instance, you might get three prescriptions for the price of two."
  • Edelman says that in some cases, using older and out-of-fashion medicines may be a good idea. "When I have a patient who is in especially difficult financial circumstances, I rely on drugs that many physicians no longer use," Edelman says. He says that while dyphylline may have greater side effects than newer drugs, it works well and is inexpensive. In some cases, he also uses the oral corticosteroid prednisone. "It's a very good asthma drug and it's very cheap," he says, "However, the side effects are substantial if you use it for a long time."
  • You could also ask your health care providers for free samples of prescription drugs. While it is not a long-term solution, it could help you make it through a particularly difficult stretch.

Asthma Drug Assistance Programs

People with low incomes can get help with medical bills in various ways. Thirty-two state governments have programs that help pay for drugs for people who don't qualify for Medicaid. However, many are only open to seniors.

Another option is to get assistance directly from pharmaceutical companies. Many of them have programs that give free medicine to eligible people.

The requirements vary from program to program. For instance, GlaxoSmithKline's "Bridges to Access" program sets the income cap at $25,000 for single people or 250% of the federal poverty limit for families. The AstraZeneca Foundation's Patient Assistance Program gives free medicines to eligible single people who make $18,000 or less or couples who make $24,000 or less.

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