Are There Any Generic Asthma Inhalers?

There is one generic asthma inhaler currently available.

The available "rescue" inhalers available for the treatment of acute asthma symptoms. From left to right, ProAir HFA (albuterol), Proventil HFA (albuterol), Ventolin HFA (albuterol) and Xopenex HFA (levalbuterol). © Daniel More, MD

Unfortunately, there is only generic asthma inhaler on the market–Xopenex HFA Generic. Xopenex HFA is a rescue inhaler, meaning it is meant to be used only during an asthma attack. Generic Xopenex contains a generic form of levoalbuterol, the active ingredient in non-generic Xopenex, and is just as effective as the non-generic, but available at a lower cost. Levoalbuterol is a good alternative for people who are sensitive to albuterol and may experience an increased heart rate or shakiness after taking.

 

If you do not want the generic Xopenex HFA, make sure your doctor writes a prescription specifically for the non-generic formula, as your insurance might default to the generic. 

Non-Generic Inhalers

Other than the generic for Xopenex, there are currently no other generic asthma inhalers on the market, either as rescue inhalers (inhalers you use during an asthma attack) or controller medications (inhalers you use every day to manage asthma and symptoms). Since the transition to HFA-based propellant inhalers, most generic albuterol inhalers are no longer available. Albuterol is now only available in ​multiple brand name versions, including Proventil, ProAir, and Ventolin.

Controller inhalers for asthma, which are used to prevent symptoms of asthma, are also only available in brand name versions. There are a number of inhaled steroids available for this purpose, including Flovent, Asmanex, QVAR, Alvesco, and Pulmicort.

Inhalers that combine inhaled steroids and long-acting bronchodilators, such as Advair, Symbicort, and Dulera, are also only available in brand name form.

Nebulizer solutions for asthma, as both rescue and controller therapies, are available in generic versions. Albuterol nebulizer solution is available only as a generic medication.

Budesonide is the generic version of Pulmicort Respules, an inhaled steroid used as a controller therapy for the treatment of asthma. Budesonide is available as a generic nebulizer steroid solution, as well as in brand name form.

Affording Your Inhaler 

If you are looking for a generic inhaler because your brand name inhaler is too expensive, there are several ways you may be able to get a cheaper prescription. Ask your doctor if they have any samples or manufacturers' coupon that can bring you co-pay down. You can also call your insurance company and ask for the prices of other rescue inhalers or control medications. If your insurance has a medication they prefer you use, ask your doctor if your prescription can be changed to the lower-priced drug. You can also look at the website of the pharmaceutical company that makes the inhaler and see if they offer a savings plan or discounts to those who cannot afford the prescription or do not have adequate insurance coverage. 

Source:

Practice Parameters for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol,  1995;96:S707-870.

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