Medically reviewed by, Russell Braun RPH
Breo Ellipta is an oral prescription inhaler that contains two different medications. Those medications include fluticasone, a corticosteroid, and vilanterol, a long acting beta agonist. Breo Ellipta is used to treat both asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which consist of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
The corticosteroid component helps to reduce inflammation in airways. That helps to decrease swelling making it easier to breathe. The long acting beta agonist (LABA) component helps to relax the muscle bands that can tighten around airways. Additionally, LABA’s can help remove mucus from your lungs.
Corticosteroids do not act immediately and the affect from taking them increases over time. As the name implies for the LABA’s they are long acting. This means they produce there effect more slowly and for a more prolonged time. Therefore, Breo Ellipta is a once daily treatment that needs to be used every day to achieve maximum benefits.
Breo Ellipta is not a medication that should be used if you have a sudden attack where you are having trouble breathing and need relief right away. When that occurs a rescue inhaler should be used instead.
1. How much does Breo Ellipta Cost?
Breo Ellipta is currently only available as a brand name medication. With no generic competition to help drive down prices, the inhaler is costly.
According to GoodRx one inhaler of Breo Ellipta inhaler in either available strength costs $356. That is $356 per month or $4272 per year if you pay cash with no insurance.
2. How long does a Breo Inhaler last?
Breo Ellipta has a counter on the inhaler as shown in the photo below. The inhaler counts down by one dose from 30 to 0 each time you use the inhaler. If used once per day, which is normal dosing the inhaler should last 30 days.
When looking up Breo Ellipta pricing on websites or see prescription information from a pharmacy, it may refer to a quantity of 60. This is a source of confusion around Breo Ellipta because it only lasts 30 days.
So why the quantity of 60?
The inhaler itself contains powder blisters of both active ingredients fluticasone and vilanterol. Every dose releases 1 blister of each drug. Since two blisters are used for each dose the quantity shows as 60 even though it is only a 30 day supply.
3. Is there a generic for Breo Inhaler?
At this time there is no generic for Breo Ellipta. The drug and device it is contained in have fourteen patents protecting them. That means that Glaxo, the manufacturer of Breo has exclusive rights to sell the drug in the United States until the patents expire. The estimated expiration date is not until 2030. Even worse news is that when that time gets close patent lawsuits may keep the drug from going generic even longer.
4. Is Breo cheaper than Advair?
Advair was the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that contained a combination of corticosteroid and long-acting beta agonist. Both Advair and Breo Ellipta contain similar medications and treat similar disease states. Both provide relief of symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and tightness in the chest.
Given that Advair has been on the market longer than Breo Ellipta, patents have expired making way for generics to come on the market. Today several generics are available and they are much cheaper!
|Fluticasone / salmeterol||250/50 mcg||$122|
|Wixela inhub||250/50 mcg||$122|
|Fluticasone / salmeterol||232/14 mcg||$51|
**Prices shown are according to GoodRx.
As you can see from the table above the generic version of Advair is much cheaper at $122.
5. Is Airduo the same as Advair?
Interestingly, before Advair was available generically Teva, a pharmaceutical manufacturer came out with a slightly different form of the active ingredients found in Advair. They used a RespiClick dose instead of the dry powder inhaler that Advair contained. Teva came out with a brand name Airduo and a generic fluticasone / salemterol at the same time back in 2017.
In addition to the slightly different dose, the strength was slightly lower for fluticasone 232mcg vs 250mcg and significantly lower for the salmeterol component at 14mcg vs 50mcg.
These minor difference will require a doctor to write the prescription for the specific Airduo or its generic instead of Advair. However, this is well worth the effort as the generic of Airduo is the cheapest option containing a corticosteroid and long-acting beta agonist.
Why would anyone use Breo Ellipta given the cost?
Even though generic Advair or Airduo are much more cost effective there is one benefit that Breo Ellipta has. That is you only have to use the Breo Ellipta inhaler once per day. Advair inhalers need to be used twice per day. Talk to your doctor if the once per day dosing is worth the money for you.
6. Does Medicare pay for Breo inhaler?
Each Medicare plan will have a formulary, or list of drugs they prefer their members use. Some drugs will be more preferred than others and the less preferred a drug is the more a patient will have to pay for that drug. This will be referred to as the copay tier for a particular drug.
Each Medicare drug plan must cover two drugs per category of drug. Some Medicare plans may cover Breo Ellipta and others may not. In most cases since there are generic options, if Breo Ellipta is covered it will not be the most preferred copay tier. That means a higher copay than the generic, or more preferred drug option.
In cases where a medicare drug plan does not cover Breo Ellipta, but your doctor determines it is necessary there is a process called an exception. The doctor has to request the exception most often through a process called a prior authorization. Basically, this is providing reasoning why the doctor feels this drug is necessary. If the prior authorization is approved, an exception is granted and the drug could be covered.
7. Ways to lower Breo Ellipta costs
As with any brand name drug you are prescribed, you should always ask for samples. The reason is that the sample will give you a chance to determine if you can tolerate this drug before you actually have to pay for it. A trial using the Breo Ellipta inhaler can let you evaluate the functionality of the inhaler itself and how the medication ingredients work for you.
Most doctors who would be treating you for breathing problems should have samples available as the manufacturer is more than willing to provide them.
Read 5 reasons for bullet journaling medication effects to learn more about what to track while you have samples. This will help you determine if you should continue using Breo Ellipta or ask your doctor for another treatment.
Patient Assistance Programs (PAP’s)
Patient assistance programs are your next step if Breo Ellipta is being prescribed for you. The PAP program is provided by Glaxo Smith-Kline, the manufacturer of Breo Ellipta and provides medication at low or no cost.
To qualify for this program you must meet the following criteria:
- Be a resident of the U.S.
- Income below 250% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
- If eligible, may receive up to 90 day supply of Breo Ellipta
Patients may apply on their own or with the help of an advocate.
Patient Access Network Foundation (PAN)
The PAN foundation also has a program for Breo Ellipta. The criteria for the PAN foundation program include:
- Must be a U.S. resident
- Below 500% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved diagnosis for use of the drug
- Must have health insurance
Needymeds is a website that has information on almost all patient assistance programs. You can print the PAP or PAN form(s) off of the NeedyMeds.org website. Search under patient savings and then Breo Ellipta and look for PAP programs. One you complete the application and income verification you will take the form to your doctor for a signature. Once faxed or mailed in a decision should be provided in 3-5 business days.
If you are slightly over the Federal Poverty Level always apply anyway!
Needymeds has an FPL calculator you can use to determine where you are based on your income and number of people in your household. If you qualify this would be free medication, no question asked. Please take the time to figure out if you should apply and if you are close do so.
If you do qualify you will be enrolled for a year. After the year is up you have to reapply and provide updated income information.
Copay coupon card
Copay coupon cards are provided by pharmaceutical manufacturers to assist patients with insurance to be able to afford their out of pocket expenses.
That could be a copay, coinsurance or deductible. The coupon for Breo Ellipta provides a 30 day supply with a copay of as little as $10 for insured patients.
Important things to remember
- Offer is good for the first 12 fills only, or 1 full year.
- Only valid if you do have insurance.
- Maximum savings is $100 per month.
- You can’t use this card if you have any federal or state insurance. Examples: Medicare, Medicaid
- Patients who are deemed eligible without insurance can receive up to $100 per month toward the full cost of Breo Ellipta.
If you have a high deductible health plan (HDHP) you may have a copay accumulator. What is that you ask?
Copay accumulators are tools used by insurance companies to track how much money you receive from drug manufacturers in the form of copay coupon cards. That amount is NOT applied to your deductible. Meaning you would still have to pay the amount the Breo Ellipta card pays in order to meet your deductible.
This can be a rude awakening if you fill Breo Ellipta with a copay coupon card paying a large sum each time. Then after 12 months the card is exhausted and you are still responsible for your full deductible amount!
Save Money with Prevention
Patients with asthma or COPD are more likely to experience respiratory infections. The corticosteroid component of Breo Ellipta can increase the chance of getting an respiratory.
Vaccines are covered by most insurances as preventative care, since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Almost all insurers pay 100% for preventative care.
Therefore you should make sure you get your vaccines up to date and keep track of them. This can save you big in the long run by preventing emergency room or hospital visits for infections.
Vaccines to ask your doctor about:
- Influenza, yearly
- Pneumococcal vaccine, frequency depends on you age
- Meningococal vaccine
8. Breo Ellipta patient reviews
A summary of reviews from WebMD show the following results from patients who use Breo Ellipta for the following conditions.
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease
- Allergic Asthma
- Was the drug effective?
3.94 out of 5 stars
- Was the drug easy to use?
4.38 out of 5 stars
- Were patients satisfied overall?
3.81 out of 5 stars
9. Right for you?
Breo Ellipta is an effective, yet costly medication to treat asthma or COPD. Consider all the options to treat your disease to get the best outcome for you. Most users have a positive experience with Breo Ellipta when used correctly. The video below gives a demonstration on how to properly use the Breo Ellilpta inhaler.
Click here to get Dr. Jason Reed’s exclusive list of medication questions you MUST ask your doctor, for FREE!
Share your story!
Have you used Breo Ellipta? How well did it work for you? Please chime in below with your comments and thoughts below.