GlaxoSmithKline to Discontinue Flovent Asthma Inhalers From January 1

Sat Dec 30 2023
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BRENTFORD: As of January 1, 2024, users of the widely-used corticosteroid inhalers, Flovent HFA or Flovent Diskus, will encounter changes, as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the manufacturer of Flovent, has announced the discontinuation of the Flovent-branded products. In its place, GSK will introduce an authorized generic version boasting an identical formula and device design, as confirmed by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Despite the assurance of identical formulations, healthcare professionals express concerns about potential challenges for patients, particularly if insurance providers do not cover the new authorized generics.

Dr. Robyn Cohen, a pediatric pulmonologist at Boston Medical Center, emphasized the significant impact of this decision, stating, “This medication has been the most commonly used inhaled medication for the past 25 or 30 years. The fact that it is being discontinued is going to be a huge shock to the system for patients, for families, and for doctors.”

Challenges to Patients with Changes to Asthma Inhalers

Patients may encounter hurdles in transitioning to alternative inhalers, especially when considering options like Arnuity and Qvar, which are favored by certain insurance carriers. Dr. Christopher Oermann highlighted that these alternatives might not be suitable for children due to the breath capacity required for dispensing the medication.

The decision to discontinue Flovent inhalers is attributed to GlaxoSmithKline’s initiative to provide potentially lower-cost alternatives to US patients. This strategic shift aligns with the removal of the cap on Medicaid drug rebates scheduled for January 1, following the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act.

The elimination of the cap exposes manufacturers to potential losses when selling drugs to Medicaid, especially considering that the price of Flovent products has risen nearly 50% in the past decade, according to data from GoodRx.

In response to the development, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends that people reliant on Flovent inhalers engage in discussions with healthcare professionals about suitable alternatives, including authorized generics, and verify coverage with insurance providers to ensure a smooth transition.

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