Competition Heats Up for Advair's Share of the Market

Health Professional

While the economy sputters, the long acting bronchodilator/ corticosteroid combination inhaler market is booming.   While big pharmaceutical companies fight it out to maintain or gain a piece of this pie, we asthmatics should be the beneficiaries.

New drugs, and new marketing ploys, may soon be available in the U.S. market to compete with Advair and Symbicort, which will provide more options for asthmatics like you and me.   Plus, as we all know, more competition means lower costs.

Advair and Symbicort are asthma combination inhalers that have both a long acting bronchodilator (LAB) to treat the airway narrowing (bronchospasm) component of asthma, but also a corticosteroid to treat the chronic inflammation side of asthma.

Advair (called Seritide in Europe), which is marketed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) out of London, became available in the U.S. in 2001, and presently has the lead in this booming market. Adviar consists of the LAB Salmeterol (Serevent) and steroid fluticasone propionate (Flovent).

Symbicort, marketed by AstraZeneca, became available in the U.S. market in 2007 to compete with Advair.   Symbicort consists of the LAB Formoterol (Foradil) and steroid Budosenide (Pulmicort).

To improve it's share of the market, AstraZeneca is hoping the FDA will approve of Symbicort as a single-use inhaler, meaning asthmatics will be able to use it as both a preventative medicine and a rescue inhaler.

In May of 2010 the patent on Advair will expire (as you can read here), providing an opportunity for other companies to make and sell generic Advairs (like Seroflo) and gain a piece of this booming market.

Although, as you can read here, GSK sees little risk from generic Advairs any time soon. We can only hope, for our sake, GSK is wrong.

To try to maintain it's share of the market, GSK is hoping to soon release a new "Super Advair," which is also known as "Son of Advair."   The inhaler will consist of a new LAB, currently called LABA 444, that only needs to be taken once a day, and a new corticosteroid, perhaps fluticasone furoate.

GSK notes early studies for "Son of Advair" show improved lung function and less risk for cardiac side effects, although other studies show the new corticosteroid is not much better than fluticasone propionate, the one in Advair.

Of course the company hopes to get all it's current Advair users to switch to this new drug before Advair generics are available.   We'll have to wait and see how this turns out.

Other future entrances into this market (as you can read here) are Novartis/Schering-Plough's once-daily medicine which contains the LAB indacaterol and corticosteroid mometasone, SkyePharma's Flutiform (Formoterol and Mometasone), and Nycomed's Alvesco (Formoterol and ciclesonide).

All these attempts to maintian, or gain, market shares for these pharmaceutical companies means increased competion, and -- hopefully -- lower prices for you and me.   Yet it also means more options for you and me and our doctors too, and -- ideally -- better asthma control with safer medicines.

Yes it's true, all this competition should benefit us asthmatics.