The soaring cost of asthma medication - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

The soaring cost of asthma medication

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Asthma medicines help asthma patients go about their normal day-to-day lives. Asthma medicines help asthma patients go about their normal day-to-day lives.
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CHARLESTON, WV -

Asthma is an inflammatory disease affecting a person's airways.  Although asthma attacks are typically temporary, they cause shortness of breath, breathing trouble and a tightened chest. If an asthma attack is severe, a person may need medical treatment to restore normal breathing.

"I'm weezing a little bit and I'm coughing," said Eli Burdette, a 6-year-old boy who lives in Charleston, WV and loves to swim.

Sometimes shortness of breath and breathing troubles keep him out of the water, so he takes medicine every day to help control his asthma.

"Well, I have to take breathing treatments," said Burdette.  

Asthma is the most common chronic disease that affects Americans.  It affects people of all ages and can usually be controlled with drugs.

"The way you treat asthma is you start very low with just as needed rescue medicines and then you add another layer, and another layer," said Dr. Blair Thrush, of Thrush and Clark Allergists in Charleston, WV.  "Ideally people should be able to do everything they want to do."

Asthma medicines help asthma patients go about their normal day-to-day lives but they can be expensive. For example, asthma inhalers are protected by a string of patents, making it hard to make generic alternatives.

"The newer inhalers on the market, they're very, very expensive," said Thrush.

One new steroid inhaler retails for over $175 alone. Older medicine asthma medicines can cost between $50 and $100 but don't last as long and aren't as effective.

Yet for most patients suffering from asthma, these medicines are life-changing.

"Basically you'd like people to live a normal life and many people can," said Thrush.  

Living normal lives like Eli and his older brother Ethan. While Eli still suffers from asthma, Ethan now shows no more symptoms.

"Now I don't have to take breathing treatments and my chest doesn't hurt while I'm playing soccer," said Ethan.  

Asthma affects about 40 million people annually.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the annual cost of asthma in the United States at more than $56 billion.

To avoid some of these high prescription prices, ask your doctor for samples, request discount coupons from pharmaceutical manufactures, join a generalized pharmaceutical assistance program and shop around at different pharmacies.