If you or your child use a Flovent inhaler, now is a good time to get it refilled (if you can), and then call the doctor about updating your prescription. The company that makes Flovent is discontinuing the name brand version, and the generic (fluticasone) may not be covered under all plans.
The company that makes Flovent, GSK, announced that they will stop manufacturing Flovent HFA (a metered dose inhaler) and Flovent Diskus (a powder inhaler) as of January 1, 2024. In a statement to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, GSK said that the last date Flovent could be ordered is December 31, 2023; they expect the remaining supply to run out in “early 2024.”
Why is Flovent being discontinued?
Table of Contents
Because the American for-profit medical system is messed up, basically. CNN points out that the timing matches up with a change in Medicaid regulations that applies penalties for hiking up the price of drugs. Flovent’s price has risen dramatically over the years, so it would likely be affected by the change.
Before shutting down production, GSK began manufacturing an “authorized generic” version of both medications. As Flovent.com loudly proclaims, the authorized generics are still made by GSK, they’re just sold by a different company, PRASCO. They have the same active ingredient, the same packaging (minus the brand name), and the same instructions.
The generic version might not be covered under your insurance
So your pharmacist will just switch you to the generic fluticasone, right? Not necessarily. CNN reports that the generic version may not be covered, or may not be your cheapest option. (Again, there are some pricing shenanigans potentially at work here; according to CNN, CVS is structuring their pricing to encourage people who have their insurance to go with Pulmicort rather than generic Flovent.)
Depending on how your prescription was written, you may need to get your doctor to call in a new prescription for you to be able to get an inhaler that works for you and that your insurance covers.
What should I do if I have a Flovent prescription?
First, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends that you refill your Flovent prescription as soon as possible. There is still some Flovent on the pharmacy shelves, so you might as well snag one last inhaler while you still can.
Next, get in touch with the doctor who prescribes your inhalers, and ask what they recommend. (You won’t be the only one calling about this, I promise). The AAFA says that some of your options might include:
GSK’s generic version of Flovent HFA or Flovent Diskus
ArmonAir Digihaler, an alternative to Flovent Diskus with slightly different dosages available
Arnuity Ellipta, a different medication that “is not a direct substitute” for Flovent but that may be appropriate for many people who previously used Flovent
Your insurance company should be able to tell you which of these they cover, and your doctor should be able to help you figure out which one will be your best option, medically. With luck, everyone will be able to find a new prescription that works and that might even be cheaper than what they had before.