Why is Trelegy So Expensive?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma are debilitating respiratory conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. Trelegy Ellipta, a brand-name inhaler, has emerged as a crucial treatment option for individuals battling these conditions. However, the exorbitant cost of Trelegy Ellipta has become a significant concern for patients and healthcare providers alike. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the factors contributing to the high price of Trelegy and explore potential solutions to alleviate the financial burden on patients.

Understanding Trelegy Ellipta: A Powerful Combination

Trelegy Ellipta is a remarkable inhaler that contains three essential medications, making it an effective tool in managing COPD and asthma. This combination therapy includes fluticasone furoate, umeclidinium, and vilanterol. Let’s take a closer look at each component and its role in improving respiratory function.

Fluticasone Furoate: Taming Inflammation

Fluticasone furoate, an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS), plays a crucial role in reducing inflammation and swelling in the lungs. By inhibiting the release of inflammatory substances, fluticasone furoate helps alleviate symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest tightness. Its anti-inflammatory properties are vital in preventing and managing COPD flare-ups.

Umeclidinium: Keeping Airways Open

Umeclidinium, a long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA), acts as a bronchodilator, keeping the airways open. By blocking the tightening of smooth muscles surrounding the airways, umeclidinium allows for improved airflow, leading to reduced coughing and easier breathing. It complements the effects of fluticasone furoate, providing comprehensive relief for individuals with COPD and asthma.

Vilanterol: Relaxing Airways

Vilanterol, a long-acting beta2 agonist (LABA), is another bronchodilator present in Trelegy Ellipta. It works by relaxing the muscles in the airways, allowing for the dilation of bronchial tubes and facilitating better oxygen flow. By reducing airway constriction, vilanterol helps alleviate symptoms like wheezing and shortness of breath, enabling individuals to breathe more comfortably.

The Sky-High Cost of Trelegy Ellipta: Unraveling the Factors

Trelegy Ellipta’s life-changing benefits come at a steep price. Let’s explore the key factors contributing to the high cost of this inhaler and examine why it remains an expensive treatment option for COPD and asthma patients.

Limited Generic Alternatives

One primary reason behind Trelegy Ellipta’s high price is the absence of generic alternatives. Generic drugs typically offer more affordable options for patients, as multiple manufacturers can produce them once the patent for the brand-name drug expires. However, Trelegy Ellipta remains a brand-name medication, with no generic version available yet. This lack of competition allows the manufacturer to maintain higher pricing.

Research and Development Costs

The development of innovative medications like Trelegy Ellipta involves extensive research and development (R&D) efforts, which come at a significant cost. Pharmaceutical companies invest substantial resources in conducting clinical trials, ensuring the drug’s safety and efficacy, and obtaining regulatory approvals. These expenses, coupled with ongoing post-marketing studies and monitoring, contribute to the overall price of the medication.

Complex Manufacturing Processes

The manufacturing process for Trelegy Ellipta is intricate and requires advanced technology and specialized equipment. Each inhaler must be carefully assembled to ensure accurate dosing and consistent delivery of the three medications. These complex manufacturing processes add to the production costs, subsequently impacting the final price of the inhaler.

Patent Protection and Market Exclusivity

Upon developing a new medication, pharmaceutical companies obtain patents that grant them exclusive rights to produce and sell the drug for a specified period. During this patent protection period, typically lasting 20 years, no competing manufacturers can produce generic versions of the medication. As a result, the brand-name manufacturer can set higher prices without facing market competition. Trelegy Ellipta’s patent protection further contributes to its substantial cost.

The Impact on Patients: The Real-Life Consequences

The exorbitant cost of Trelegy Ellipta poses significant challenges for patients, potentially impeding their access to this life-saving medication. Let’s explore the consequences faced by individuals grappling with the high price of Trelegy.

Financial Burden on Uninsured Patients

For individuals without health insurance coverage, the cost of Trelegy Ellipta can be overwhelming. Without the support of insurance, the full retail price of the inhaler can pose a significant financial burden. The lack of affordable alternatives exacerbates the issue, leaving uninsured patients struggling to afford the medication they need to manage their COPD or asthma effectively.

Insurance Coverage Limitations

While insurance coverage can provide some relief, it is not without limitations. Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans may cover Trelegy Ellipta, but the specific coverage and out-of-pocket costs can vary depending on the individual plan. Copayments, deductibles, and restrictions on coverage may still leave patients with substantial financial responsibility.

Prior Authorization Requirements

Many insurance companies require prior authorization before approving coverage for Trelegy Ellipta. This process involves a review by the insurance company to determine if the medication is medically necessary for the patient’s condition. Delays in obtaining prior authorization or denials can significantly impact patients’ ability to access the medication promptly, leading to potential gaps in treatment and worsening of symptoms.

Seeking Solutions: Navigating the High Cost of Trelegy Ellipta

Despite the challenges posed by the high cost of Trelegy Ellipta, there are strategies and assistance programs available to help patients alleviate the financial burden. Let’s explore some potential solutions and resources to make Trelegy Ellipta more affordable for those in need.

Insurance Coverage Optimization

To navigate the complexities of insurance coverage, it is crucial for patients to understand their plans and explore options that offer the most favorable copayments and coverage for Trelegy Ellipta. Comparing different Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plans can help identify options with lower out-of-pocket costs. Consulting with insurance providers and pharmacists can provide valuable insights into coverage details and potential savings.

Manufacturer Assistance Programs

Pharmaceutical companies often offer assistance programs to help eligible patients access their medications at reduced costs. For example, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the manufacturer of Trelegy Ellipta, provides a copay card that can significantly reduce the out-of-pocket expenses for patients with commercial insurance. Exploring such programs and their eligibility criteria can help patients obtain the medication at a more affordable price.

Online Ordering and International Options

Ordering medications online, particularly from international pharmacies, can offer cost savings for patients. Canada, for instance, has more affordable pricing for prescription drugs, including Trelegy Ellipta. However, it is crucial to exercise caution and ensure that the online pharmacy is reputable and operates legally to ensure the safety and authenticity of the medication.

Lifestyle Modifications and Alternative Therapies

In conjunction with medication, incorporating lifestyle modifications can help improve lung function and overall health. Regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and adequate sleep can positively impact respiratory health and complement the effects of Trelegy Ellipta. Additionally, alternative therapies such as pulmonary rehabilitation, breathing exercises, and complementary treatments may provide additional relief and support for COPD and asthma management.


Trelegy Ellipta offers significant benefits for individuals battling COPD and asthma, but its high cost poses a significant challenge. Limited generic alternatives, research and development expenses, patent protection, and complex manufacturing processes contribute to the elevated price of this life-saving inhaler. However, exploring insurance coverage options, manufacturer assistance programs, online ordering, and lifestyle modifications can help alleviate the financial burden for patients in need. As healthcare systems and policymakers continue to address the issue of high drug costs, ensuring access to essential medications like Trelegy Ellipta remains a critical priority, allowing individuals to breathe easier and live healthier lives.