The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) applauded an announcement that the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) is launching an investigation into the high costs of inhalers used for the treatment of asthma.

AAFA says in a statement that the investigation opens an opportunity to address what patients report as the primary reason why people don’t adhere to their asthma treatment: the cost of prescribed asthma medication.

“We are hopeful the HELP Committee investigation will lead to a national conversation about asthma drug costs and produce action that breaks down barriers to affordable treatment for people with asthma. The bottom line is that cost drives access. We understand the barriers; now it is important to move toward solutions,” AAFA says in a release

On Jan 8, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the HELP Committee, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent letters to four pharmaceutical companies that manufacture inhalers—AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, and Teva—requesting they provide information and documents on pricing strategies, manufacturing costs, research and development expenditures, and more.  

“As chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, I am conducting an investigation into the efforts of these companies to pump up their profits by artificially inflating and manipulating the price of asthma inhalers that have been on the market for decades. The United States cannot continue to pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs,” says Sanders in a release.

AAFA shared the patient perspective with the HELP Committee, and research from AAFA helped inform the committee’s investigation framework, according to the AAFA. One of the AAFA reports cited in letters sent to drug manufacturers highlights disparities in asthma treatment and outcomes.

“AAFA’s Asthma Disparities in America report reveals that asthma disproportionately affects seniors, women, people who have low income or low wealth, and people who are Black, Hispanic, or Indigenous,” says AAFA chief mission officer Melanie Carver, a co-author of the report, in a release. 

AAFA president and CEO Kenneth Mendez adds in a release, “AAFA applauds the Senate HELP Committee for addressing the high costs of asthma inhalers. Access to these medications can save lives, reduce hospitalizations, and lower the more than $82 billion in annual costs to the US economy from this chronic disease.”

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