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FDA Approves Xopenex HFA Generic for Asthma

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on November 17, 2016 at 4:52 pm

We have good news for the asthma community! A generic for Xopenex HFA, an inhalation aerosol used to treat bronchospasms, is available in pharmacies now!

The generic, levalbuterol, is a rescue inhaler used to immediately open the airways in your lungs for acute symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing. This is good news for your pocketbook!

What is levalbuterol used for?

Levalbuterol is indicted for the treatment or prevention of bronchospasm in patients 4 years of age or older, with reversible obstructive airway disease.

Levalbuterol is good for people who experience side effects from albuterol sulfate, which is a main ingredient in many alternative inhalers. So, if you experience heart palpitations, rapid heart rate, or shakiness from albuterol sulfate inhalers, levalbuterol may be a good option for you!

What strength(s) and dosage form(s) of levalbuterol will be available?

Levalbuterol will be available as an inhaler in the strength of 45mcg.

What are the most common side effects of levalbuterol?

Just like any medication, there are some side effects:

  • Accidental injury
  • Bronchitis
  • Dizziness
  • Pain
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Vomiting
  • Palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Fast heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Nervousness

Are there any similar inhalers to Xopenex HFA (levalbuterol)?

Yes! Xopenex HFA (levalbuterol) is considered a rescue inhaler, or a short-acting inhaler, and is mainly used to quickly treat an attack. There are a few other rescue inhalers, like:

  • ProAir HFA
  • ProAir RespiClick
  • Proventil HFA
  • Ventolin HFA
  • Combivent Respimat

Unfortunately, none of the inhalers mentioned above have generics, which makes them more expensive for consumers. However, ProAir HFA has an anticipated generic release date of December 2016.

What if I want to continue to use the brand, Xopenex HFA?

First off, if you would like to take brand Xopenex HFA, make sure your doctor handwrites ‘brand medically necessary’ on your prescription. This means that the pharmacy is not permitted to substitute and give you the generic product. If you prefer, you can also speak with your pharmacist and request that they fill the brand over the generic.

Unfortunately though, if you stick with the brand, you will be paying more out of pocket. If you are concerned about the cost, you can always call your pharmacist who will let you know the price ahead of time. This can save you both time and money.

Finally, keep in mind that your insurance company may not be willing to cover the cost of the brand medication, since the generic is now available. Call your prescription insurance company beforehand to ensure that it is covered.

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