Anthem BCBS Changes

Changes to Inhalers for Anthem Participants

Albuterol Inhalers with CFCs to be Replaced

We want to ensure that our members receive the prescription medications they need without interruption or delay. This includes albuterol inhalers, which are used to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

We’re contacting members who have filled a prescription for an albuterol inhaler that contains chlorofluocarbons (CFCs) within the past four months. We’re sending letters encouraging them to contact their doctor to discuss medication alternatives and obtain a new prescription for an inhaler that doesn’t use CFCs.

Why should members change their inhaler?

Albuterol inhalers are available with two forms of propellant: CFCs and hydrofluoroalkane (HFA). Although CFCs are safe to inhale, they can deplete the ozone layer, which protects the earth from the sun’s harmful rays.

In March 2005, the Food and Drug Administration issued a rule that CFC inhalers may not be produced or sold after December 31, 2008. It’s anticipated that supplies of CFC inhalers will become critically low during 2007. This is why we’re contacting members and their doctors about changing to an inhaler with HFA.

Because this is a regulatory requirement and albuterol CFC products are being discontinued by the manufacturers, this change applies to all fully insured and ASO plan members. 

What alternative inhalers are available?

The following brand-name albuterol inhalers are available:

·   ProAir HFA

·   Proventil HFA

·   Ventolin HFA

Since albuterol HFA inhalers may be more expensive than albuterol CFC inhalers, changing from an albuterol inhaler to one of the inhalers listed above may result in a higher copayment being charged at the pharmacy. The three HFA inhalers will be on our formulary and available on tier 2, or the brand-name formulary tier. The CFC inhalers were classified as a generic so members who paid a tier 1 (generic) copayment will now pay the brand-name copayment for HFA inhalers.

We’re also sending letters to members’ doctors and recommending that they write new prescriptions for “albuterol HFA,” which will allow the pharmacist to choose from the products they have available. By contacting their doctor now, members may prevent delays in refills and gaps in their drug therapy.

 Please contact StaffScapes Benefits’ Department for Benefit questions or more information at 303-466-7864