Price volatility continues for respiratory meds

Sunday, April 1, 2007

WASHINGTON - The reimbursement rates for Xopenex and DuoNeb shot up for the second quarter of 2007, according to the latest average sales price figures.

Xopenex rose 36 cents a dose to $3.84, and even DuoNeb continued its slow climb, rising 10 cents a dose to $1.15. Albuterol rose 4 cents a dose to 20 cents while ipratropium slid down 4 cents to 17 cents a dose.

One analyst speculated that larger national providers may have driven down the average sales prices throughout 2006 by buying in volume. Once they deplete those stocks, the ASP will begin to trend downward again, he said.

"The smaller guys are the only ones buying it at the higher price," said the analyst.

With CMS's surprise announcement March 21 that it would no longer pay for compounded nebulizer medications as of July 1, the ongoing volatility in the market is expected to continue, insiders say.

Additionally, in December, CMS began a coverage review of levalbuterol in the treatment of COPD, which in turn delayed a decision on whether brand-name drugs Xopenex and DuoNeb should be reimbursed at generic rates.