Elisabeth Rosenthal, a correspondent for The New York Times, spent a year investigating the high cost of health care. Her findings can be read in the series “Paying Till It Hurts.” The most recent installment focuses on the growing cost of asthma and reasons for the lack of affordable asthma treatment.
One of the major issues is the lack of generic substitutions for asthma treatment. Rosenthal writes,
“sprays, creams, patches, gels and combination medicines are more difficult to copy exactly to make a generic that meets Food and Drug Administration standards. Each time a molecule is put in a new inhaler or combined with another medicine, the amount delivered into the lungs or through the skin may change, even though that often has an imperceptible effect on patients.
“Drug companies can switch devices and use different combinations, and it becomes quite difficult to demonstrate equivalence,” Dr. Norman said, adding that inhaler makers have exploited such barriers to increase sales of medicines long after the scientific novelty has passed.”
To listen to the author’s NPR interview and access the earlier three installments of “Paying Till It Hurts,” click here.