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

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Tori Marsh
Tori Marsh, MPH, is on the Research Team at GoodRx, and is the resident expert on drug pricing and savings.
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With cash prices for inhaler Advair (fluticasone/salmeterol) reaching well beyond $400, there has been anticipation for the release of a generic. But as of February 8th, 2018, the release of Advair’s generic was postponed, despite the FDA’s previous acceptance of Sandoz’s application.

According to Sandoz, the manufacturer of generic medications owned by Novartis, the FDA has declined to approve the generic application and is asking for more data on the Advair 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.

This story has been updated to reflect current news. The original story 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.

There is good news on the horizon though—in June of 2017, the FDA accepted an application from manufacturer Sandoz to make a generic version of one form of Advair. The application has been accepted, but not yet approved, so there are no guarantees—but an Advair generic may become available in 2018. Keep an eye out for a less-expensive version in the months ahead.

You do have a few options to keep your costs down in the meantime. Here’s what you need to know:

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?

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