Generic Advair Delayed: Here’s How You Can Save Now

The previous version of this post published on January 12, 2018 is below.

Advair (fluticasone/salmeterol) is one of the most commonly prescribed inhalers for asthma and COPD—more popular than any similar combination inhaler. It’s also very expensive if you don’t have insurance, Medicare, or a discount: over $300 per inhaler for some dosages, and up to $600 for others.

It’s no wonder there has been anticipation for the release of a generic. According to Sandoz, the manufacturer of generic medications owned by Novartis, the FDA has declined to approve their generic Advair application and is asking for more data on the substitute. While this is Sandoz’s first attempt at an Advair generic, this is the third generic version of the medication to be denied by the FDA.

At present, there is no timeline for when we should expect a cost-saving version of Advair. A Sandoz spokesperson did say that a launch could be as late as 2020, but they are currently working with the FDA to identify and fix issues in their generic application.

In the meantime, there are ways to save on brand name Advair. More on that below.

When will generic Advair be available?

It’s complicated, but likely sometime in 2018. Previously, two applications to make a generic available were denied approval. The FDA rejected an application from generic manufacturer Mylan in March 2017, and another from Hikma in May 2017. It is possible that those two manufacturers could reapply, but they will need to make major changes in order to get approval.

In June 2017, the FDA accepted another application from generic manufacturer Sandoz. However, it hasn’t yet been approved, so it’s not certain when (or whether) Sandoz will be able to make a generic available.

There is was another, less-expensive drug with the same active ingredients that did become available in 2017: AirDuo. More on that below.

How popular is Advair?

On GoodRx, Advair is currently the most popular beta agonist/corticosteroid combination drug. This class of medications also includes Breo Ellipta and AirDuo (the other fluticasone/salmeterol inhaler).

Have Advair prices changed recently?

Over the past few years, Advair prices have risen slightly—but steadily, increasing about 35% from January 2013 to January 2o17.

Are there any other inhalers I can try that may be less expensive?

There are several other inhalers with similar active ingredients to Advair, but unfortunately, they all cost about the same. They also can’t all be prescribed for both asthma and COPD.

AirDuo and its authorized generic fluticasone/salmeterol are the closest things to generic Advair in pharmacies right now. AirDuo has the same active ingredients as Advair, but there are a few key differences that mean your pharmacist can’t substitute it automatically.

AirDuo comes in slightly different strengths than Advair, and it uses a different type of inhaler. While Advair has two types of inhaler, HFA and Diskus, AirDuo uses a Respiclick device.

The good news: AirDuo and fluticasone/salmeterol are much less expensive, available at under $100 per inhaler (with a GoodRx discount) at most pharmacies. If you’re interested in AirDuo though, you’ll need to talk to your doctor to see if it will work for you, and to get a new prescription.

Advair works best for me—how can I save until there is a generic alternative?

  • Use a manufacturer discount (co-pay card). GlaxoSmithKline, Advair’s manufacturer, offers a discount that can reduce your cost to as low as $10 per inhaler—if you have insurance. If you don’t, they will still knock up to $50 off the cash price. You can find more details here.
  • Filling a 90-day supply at once can often help shave a little more off your out-of-pocket costs. You may also need a new prescription from your doctor, or approval from your insurance to fill a higher quantity, so check with your doctor, pharmacist, and/or insurance.
  • Use an Advair coupon. GoodRx offers discounts for Advair online. A discount may only save you 10%-15%, which won’t make it affordable for everyone, but every bit helps.
  • Double check your coverage. If you have prescription insurance or Medicare, odds are good that your plan covers Advair. The majority of plans do offer preferred coverage for Advair HFA, Diskus, or both. If for some reason your plan doesn’t cover Advair, talk to your doctor about submitting an appeal.
  • Find an assistance program. If you’re still having trouble affording your prescription even with insurance, there are some programs that can help. GlaxoSmithKline offers an assistance program for Medicare Part D patients that can reduce your out-of-pocket cost to $0. Another program from the PAN foundation can help you reduce your costs, but you must have insurance to qualify.

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