What Is Symbicort?

Health Insurance

If you have asthma, you’ve probably tried your share of medicines and may be wondering: What is Symbicort? What makes this drug different? Made by AstraZeneca, this medication is typically prescribed when other inhalers aren’t doing the trick. Its price and formula set it apart from other inhalers.

An estimated 25 million people in the U.S. have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says that about half of those diagnosed with the condition had an attack in 2008, but that many of those attacks could have been prevented. Symbicort and other long-acting inhalers could play a role in prevention.

What is Symbicort prescribed for?

Symbicort is an inhaler containing two medications: budesonide and formoterol. Budesonide is a steroid that reduces inflammation, and formoterol is a bronchodilator that relaxes the airways, making it easier to breathe. Together, these medicines prevent asthma attacks.

Symbicort isn’t the type of inhaler you use during an attack. Instead, you use it twice daily as a preventive measure. If you have an attack, you’ll still need a short-acting or “rescue” inhaler to calm your symptoms. Also, this isn’t likely to be your first long-acting inhaler, as it’s most often prescribed to patients who aren’t effectively treated by other medications.

What are the side effects of Symbicort?

All prescription drugs come with risks and potential side effects. AstraZeneca says that the most common side effects of Symbicort in asthma patients include headache, upper respiratory tract infections, nose and throat irritation, sinus infection, congestion, nausea and vomiting, back pain, stomachache, and thrush, which is a yeast infection of the mouth and throat.

For a complete list of risks and side effects, read here.

How much does Symbicort cost?

If you have health insurance, there’s a good chance Symbicort will be covered and you’ll only be responsible for a copay. However, if you’re uninsured or if it’s not covered, your cost could be as much as $300 each month, according to RxREVU.

How to save money on Symbicort

There’s no generic version of Symbicort, but there are other ways to save on a prescription. The manufacturer currently offers a savings card and a free trial offer, which might apply to uninsured patients. If you have insurance, the $25 savings card will ensure that you don’t pay more than $25 for up to your first 12 fills.

You can also save by comparison shopping, finding a Symbicort coupon online or speaking with your doctor about therapeutic alternatives. Other long-acting inhalers might be more budget-friendly.

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Elizabeth Renter is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @elizabethrenter.