Children’s Hospital Colorado Provides Guidance to Families for Navigating National Asthma Medication Changes

Discontinuation of inhaler production impacts asthma management and treatment plans for kids and medical providers

AURORA, Colo., May 7, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado) is sharing guidance for families who are impacted by the discontinuation Flovent inhaler production and who may be struggling to keep their asthma symptoms under control. The halt in production of this common asthma treatment was sudden and announced after most insurance covered drug formularies (lists) for 2024 were finalized. As a result, many patients with asthma may not only be struggling to manage their asthma, but also be forced to pay high out-of-pocket costs for asthma treatment alternatives that may not be as effective. This change is especially difficult for children because many of the medication delivery devices on the market do not work in young children. As a result, some families may also, due to this new barrier, be grappling with not having access to asthma management medications.

“We are now seeing the trickle-down effect of patients not being able to manage their asthma day-to-day,” said Monica Federico, MD, pulmonologist at Children’s Colorado. “It’s especially difficult for families who do not speak English fluently. It’s difficult to explain why sudden changes have been made in a child’s treatment and why they don’t have access to a product that can help. This is creating barriers to kids being able to be healthy.”

Experts in the Breathing Institute at Children’s Colorado want parents and caregivers to be on guard about these new risks and understand how sudden changes in treatment can impact a child’s health. These impacts are:

  • Frequently changing which drugs are covered by insurance without medical reason can disrupt patient care, lead to worse health outcomes and, ultimately, increase health care costs.
  • Children with asthma are particularly vulnerable to negative health consequences caused by sudden changes in treatment.
  • Production or formulary changes often do not consider whether medications are approved for use in children, leaving prescribers and families without coverage of an age-appropriate option.

These sudden changes in inhaler production or insurance coverage are also creating barriers for health care providers. It can take hours each day for providers to find medications that are available in the pharmacy and are covered by a patient’s health insurance.

“We were given limited notice on the production changes and insurance coverage for these inhalers which so many children use,” said Catherine Clark, PCNS-BC, nurse specialist at the Children’s Colorado Health Pavilion. “Now, kids are being put in a situation where they may be given an asthma medication or device that is not appropriate for their age, causing them to lose control of their asthma.”

While these medication changes can be difficult for families, there is hope on the horizon. Three of the four major asthma inhaler production companies made the decision to cap the price of their inhalers at $35. This came following an investigation in January 2024 by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions into high prices for inhalers in the United States compared to other countries.

Price changes will start going into effect on June 1, 2024, through Jan. 1, 2025. Families will continue to see asthma medication changes in their insurance coverage until early 2025, and may also see additional shortages as they encounter backorders and demand for alternative products meant for pediatric use. As these challenges occur, the Children’s Colorado Asthma team would like to provide action steps families can take:

  • Check in with their child’s pediatrician or specialist to come up with a plan before their home supply runs out and before the spring allergy season or summer wildfire season begin, both seasons that can exacerbate a child’s asthma symptoms.
  • Work with your healthcare provider to make sure their asthma treatment alternative is appropriate for a child. If you receive an asthma inhaler device that is not familiar to you, please contact the prescribing provider to receive education on how to use it. If your pharmacy tells you that nothing is available, call the prescribing provider to help find an alternative or contact another pharmacy.
  • Contact your insurance company to see which treatments are covered, and if you have a secondary insurance, make sure to let the doctor’s office know; this may allow for better coverage. Ask the pharmacist and your provider about online coupons that might help control the out-of-pocket cost of medications.
  • Make sure your child knows how to take their new medication and teach them the signs of uncontrolled asthma so they can appropriately take their new medications or alert a responsible caregiver or adult for assistance. 
  • Create an Asthma Action Plan. The Asthma Action Plan helps guide families on which medications to give and when to give them when their child is having increased asthma symptoms.
  • Call the 24/7 Children’s Colorado ParentSmart Healthline” at 720-777-0123 if you have concerns.
  • Understand the complexities around national medication shortages. Families should know this is a challenge being seen nationally, and not an issue with them, or their local PCP. We empower families to ask what drug alternatives are available, where they can get a drug that’s in stock or to go back to their doctor for more help.

Please reach out to [email protected] for an interview with an expert who can speak to the experience providers and families are having. There are interview opportunities in both English and Spanish.

Children’s Hospital Colorado is one of the nation’s leading and most expansive nonprofit pediatric healthcare systems with a mission to improve the health of children through patient care, education, research and advocacy. Founded in 1908 and ranked among the best children’s hospitals in the nation as recognized by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s Colorado has established itself as a pioneer in the discovery of innovative and groundbreaking treatments that are shaping the future of pediatric healthcare worldwide. Children’s Colorado offers a full spectrum of family-centered care at its urgent, emergency and specialty care locations throughout Colorado, including an academic medical center on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, hospitals in Colorado Springs, Highlands Ranch and Broomfield, and outreach clinics across the region. For more information, visit or connect with us on FacebookInstagram and YouTube

Children’s Hospital Colorado complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
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Media Contacts:
Courtney Mally, Children’s Hospital Colorado
24/7 media line: 303-890-8314

SOURCE Children’s Hospital Colorado

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