Albuterol and levalbuterol can be confusing right off the bat due to the sound-alike active ingredient names. Both are available as various brand name inhalers, though there are no generic albuterol or levalbuterol HFA inhalers at the moment. Both types of inhaler treat asthma and in some cases COPD, but they have different strengths and side effects and can vary in price.
Both albuterol and levalbuterol are rescue inhalers. These inhalers are fast-acting and to be used for short-term breathing problems such as an asthma attack. Albuterol and levalbuterol will assist in quickly opening the airways to help improve your breathing.
Even though these medications are inhaled there is still some bodily (or systemic) absorption which can result in unfavorable side effects. Levalbuterol tends to have fewer systemic side effects compared to albuterol.
For example, albuterol can cause an increased heart rate. Therefore, patients who have a history of heart problems such as arrhythmias or heart disease may benefit from using Xopenex HFA (levalbuterol) instead of the ProAir, Ventolin, or Proventil HFAs.
Is there a price advantage to use Xopenex HFA compared to ProAir, Ventolin, or Proventil HFAs?
Depending on which pharmacy you use, you may be able to get levalbuterol and albuterol HFAs at the following discounted prices:
• Xopenex HFA (levalbuterol): $58-$63
• ProAir HFA (albuterol): $51-$59
• Ventolin HFA (albuterol): $49-$54
• Proventil HFA (albuterol): $65-$70
These prices DO NOT reflect what the copayment if using your prescription insurance may be; therefore, it is always best to check with your insurance first to see if your medication is covered and if so what the copayment will be.
Only your doctor can determine which medication is right for you, but keep in mind that if you have a pre-existing heart condition using Xopenex HFA may be more favorable due its side effect profile.