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Albuterol - Cost-Saving Treatment against Asthma

Albuterol, which was first introduced to the market of the United Kingdom in 1969 and to the U.S. market in 1980, had gained a wide popularity among patients with asthma as the so-called “rescue medication”, capable of relieving acute asthma attack in minutes.

Albuterol itself is the name of the short-acting beta-2 agonist, which works as the bronchodilator. In simple words, this substance relieves spasms and relaxes muscles in the airways, the construction of which leads to asthma attack with such symptoms as shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. By working that way, albuterol widens the airways and increases the air flow to the human lungs.

The most widely-used form of albuterol administration is by special devices, called inhalers, which provide quick delivery of the medication right to the airways, where it is supposed to work. Such brand-name asthma inhalers as Ventonil, Proventil, Volmax, Accuneb all use albuterol as the main working ingredient.

Until recently, generic albuterol inhalers had been also authorized and available on the U.S. market, offering substantial money-saving opportunities for all those, who needed to use asthma inhalers regularly. However, after the ban on ozone-depleting CFC-gases, which had been used as the delivery gases in all asthma inhalers, all the brand-name CFC-based inhalers, as well as their generic alternatives, were seized from the market on December 31, 2008. And while the manufacturers of brand-name inhalers quickly developed new albuterol inhalers based on environmentally-friendly HFA-gases, it appeared to be that all the new formulations are protected by patents, not allowing the production of cheaper generic versions until year 2012. More information on the differences between CFC-based inhalers and their HFA-based followers is available in this article at Pillwatch.com.

As the result, nowadays only brand-name HFA-based albuterol inhalers are available on the US market, which seem to be more friendly to Earth atmosphere, but are definitely less friendly to patients’ wallets: the prices on modern asthma inhalers are around $40 for one Ventolin HFA inhaler, and $50 for one Proventil HFA inhaler. In fact, this may still be ok with those, covered by medical insurance plans like Medicare or Medicaid. All the others since 2009 are faced with the challenge either to accept the price for new albuterol-based inhalers, or to consider other options, which fortunately do exist.

There are albuterol solutions, syrups and oral tablets still available as the money-saving options to albuterol-inhalers. However, it is worthy to mention that all of those medications are also available by prescription only; besides, their effect is not as quick as in direct inhalers, so patients should always keep in mind those facts.

Albuterol Sulfate in the form of solution for inhalation is available from many companies, such as Watson Labs, Nephron, RXelite, and others. The bottle of albuterol solution costs about 15 dollars, and it is available in several strength dosages, so be careful and follow your personal prescription.

Since albuterol solution still uses the same working ingredient as inhalers, the only difference is the way of administration: albuterol solutions are to be used with the special device, called nebulizer, usually 3 or 4 times a day. By the way, albuterol solutions are often offered in pre-filled and pre-measured single-dose containers (vials), so a patient has only to empty the container into a nebulizer, connect the compressor, and breathe calmly for about 5-15 minutes. Of course, this procedure is a bit more complicated than using an inhaler, but what one gets is an opportunity to prevent asthma attack by regular administration of albuterol, and, of course, the reduction of total cost of treatment.

Another alternative to consider is generic albuterol sulfate in the form of oral tablets, which are also produced by several pharmaceutical companies, and are authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These pills are available by prescription only for a price of about $25 for 100 pills pack. Again, the working ingredient remains the same as in brand-name inhalers, but the route of administration is different, which affects the speed of therapeutic effect onset mostly, making it longer to start working in comparison to inhaler.

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As one can see, in spite of the fact that the year 2009 is marketed by the increase of the usual asthma treatment cost due to transition to Earth-friendly components, several proven and officially authorized money-saving options still exist. So, once your medical insurance does not cover modern HFA-based asthma inhalers, be sure to ask your doctor about generic albuterol solution or oral pills as the alternative ways to treat asthma.


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