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Over a recent seven-year period, Medicare Part D spending on inhalers used to control respiratory problems increased $2 billion, or a whopping 44%, as more people used the devices, according to a new study. However, a lack of lower-cost generic options has also allowed prices to remain high.

From 2012 to 2018, the federal health care program spent $39.7 billion — adjusted for inflation and discounts — on inhalers to help plan beneficiaries combat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. By 2018, the nine different classes of inhalers accounted for nearly 5% of roughly $120 billion in overall spending by the Part D plan after rebates and other discounts.

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