Why is Trelegy so expensive?

Trelegy is a brand-name prescription drug used daily to treat COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and asthma.

Trelegy is expensive because it’s a brand-name drug and there are no generic alternative versions available yet.

What is Trelegy Ellipta (fluticasone furoate/umeclidinium/vilanterol)?

Trelegy Ellipta is a brand-name prescription inhaler medication manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). It’s a combination of three drugs: fluticasone, umeclidinium, and vilanterol. Fluticasone is a corticosteroid. Umeclidinium is an anticholinergic. Vilanterol is a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (LABA). Trelegy 100/62.5/25 mcg is the only strength that is approved for the treatment of COPD.

Trelegy is used to treat COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or both, and is also used for the treatment of asthma in adults. COPD is caused by damage to the lungs, usually from smoking. The damage can’t be reversed, but treatments can help manage the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

Trelegy Ellipta is not to be used as a rescue inhaler and should not be used to treat sudden breathing problems and bronchospasm (asthma attacks). It should not be used on children that are less than 18 years of age.

How does Trelegy work?

The three drugs in Trelegy work together to help improve breathing in people with COPD.

Fluticasone is a corticosteroid that works by reducing inflammation in the lungs.

Umeclidinium is an anticholinergic that works by relaxing the muscles around the airways and keeping them open.

Vilanterol trifenatate is a long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) that works by relaxing the muscles around the airways and keeping them open.

Side effects of Trelegy Ellipta

Common side effects of Trelegy Ellipta for COPD include:

  • upper respiratory tract infection
  • pneumonia
  • bronchitis
  • thrush in your mouth and throat
  • headache
  • back pain
  • joint pain
  • flu
  • inflammation of the sinuses
  • sore throat and runny nose
  • taste disturbance
  • constipation
  • painful and frequent urination (signs of a urinary tract infection)
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • mouth and throat pain
  • cough
  • hoarseness

Common side effects of Trelegy Ellipta for asthma include:

  • runny nose and sore throat
  • upper respiratory tract infection
  • bronchitis
  • respiratory tract infection
  • inflammation of the sinuses
  • painful and frequent urination (signs of a urinary tract infection)
  • flu
  • headache
  • back pain

Trelegy Ellipta can also cause other serious side effects such as:

  • fungal infection in your throat (thrush) or mouth
  • pneumonia
  • weakened immune system and an increase in the chance of getting an infection
  • reduced adrenal function
  • sudden breathing problems immediately after inhaling the medication
  • serious allergic reactions
  • effects on heart – increased blood pressure, a fast or irregular heartbeat, awareness of heartbeat, chest pain.
  • effects on the nervous system  tremor; nervousness.
  • bone thinning or weakness (osteoporosis)
  • eye problems such as increased pressure in the eye, glaucoma, blurred vision, cataracts, worsening of narrow-angle glaucoma, or other possible changes in vision.
  • new or worse urinary retention
  • changes in laboratory blood values, including high levels of blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and low levels of potassium (hypokalemia).
  • slowed growth in children

Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking Trelegy Ellipta. Before starting to take Trelegy Ellipta, tell your healthcare professional about all of your medical conditions and any other prescription drugs including any other inhaled bronchodilators, over-the-counter, or supplements you are taking. Trelegy is a brand-name drug that’s not available in generic form. Trelegy is expensive, but there are some ways to save on the cost.

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How much does Trelegy cost?

Trelegy costs will vary depending on your health insurance plan and the coverage for this medication.

Once you and your plan spend the minimum required amount combined on drugs (including the deductible), you’ll pay no more than 25% of the cost for Myrbetriq, if this medication is covered under your health insurance company’s drug formulary.

For people without insurance who need to pay the cash price, the list price for a 30-day supply of Trelegy Ellipta is $619.92, according to the manufacturer.

For individuals with Medicare insurance coverage, around 61.4% of Trelegy prescriptions cost less than $50 per month, and the average cost of the remaining Trelegy prescriptions is $176 per month.

The manufacturer also estimates that for people who are insured through their employer or a private policy, around 51.6% of Trelegy prescriptions cost less than $20 per month, and the average cost of the remaining prescriptions is $113 per month.

No generic alternative to Trelegy is available

Trelegy is a brand-name prescription inhaler and there are currently no generic alternative of Trelegy available. Generic drugs are typically much less expensive than brand-name drugs.

The earliest date that Trelegy generic will become available is November 29, 2030, when the Trelegy patents expire. Individuals who suffer from COPD and asthma will need to purchase the brand-name product until the generic becomes available.

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Patent laws

Patent laws for pharmaceutical discovery are designed to encourage innovation by giving drug companies a temporary monopoly on the market for new drugs that normally last around 20 years. This exclusivity period gives companies time to recoup their research and development costs before other manufacturers can produce generic versions of the drug.

However, pharmaceutical companies may also receive an extension on the patent protection by reformulating the medication, changing how to drug is administrated, or simplifying the dose, which is known as a “new use” or “new formulation” patent.

In the case of orphan drugs, the Orphan Drug Act provides pharmaceutical companies an additional seven years of patent protection for medications that are intended for rare diseases and affect 200,000 or fewer people in the United States.

When patents or other exclusive marketing rights expire, generic pharmaceutical manufacturers can submit an application to the FDA to produce a generic version of the drug. After the FDA approves a generic version of a drug, it may still take several months before the medication is available on the market. As multiple generic manufacturers will likely sell the generic version of the drug, competition will likely drive down the price of the medication making it more affordable for patients.

In the case of Trelegy, GlaxoSmithKline has received an extension on their patents for Trelegy through November 29, 2030 which means that there will likely be no generic versions of this medication available for sale until then.

Unregulated pricing for pharmaceuticals

In contrast to other developed nations, pharmaceutical pricing is not regulated by the United States government. This means that drug companies are free to set their own prices for medications without any regulation and oversight in the United States while the same medication may sell for significantly less in other countries.

According to a report by RAND, the cost of drugs in the United States is on average 2.56 times as high as in other developed OECD countries and annual price increases continue to rise faster than the rate of inflation, according to AARP.

With an estimated monthly cost of $619.92, according to the manufacturer, people who suffer from asthma and COPD will need to pay a high price for this medication until a generic alternative becomes available.

Alternatives to Trelegy Ellipta

Speak with your healthcare provider and find out if there are any Trelegy alternatives that are right for you. The most common alternatives of Trelegy are:

How do I save on Trelegy?

The high cost of Trelegy Ellipta can be a barrier for some people who are suffering from asthma or COPD. Fortunately, there are a few options available to help you save money:

  1. Trelegy Savings Coupon – the manufacturer of Trelegy, GSK, offers a savings coupon card to eligible individuals. You may be eligible to pay as little as $0 on your Trelegy prescription for up to 12 months. Check the terms and conditions on the GSK website to determine if you are eligible as this offer may change.
  2. Patient assistance program – you might be eligible for enrollment into a patient assistance program for Trelegy Ellipta.
  3. Ask your healthcare provider for free Trelegy samples – GSK provides healthcare professionals with free samples of its medication to provide to patients that need help getting started on the medication.
  4. Get medical advice from your prescribing healthcare provider and find out if there are any alternative medications that are right for you – find out from your healthcare provider if a lower-cost Trelegy alternative could work for you.
  5. Shop around at mail-order pharmacies for the best possible price – it’s possible to save money on Trelegy by shopping around for the lowest price at multiple mail-order pharmacies and local pharmacies as drug prices may vary by pharmacy.
  6. Trelegy coupons – you may be able to find a Trelegy manufacturer coupon from GSK to help you save money.
  7. Help from Medicaid – find out if there is a state Medicaid plan available that will cover the cost of your Trelegy prescription. Generally, these state Medicaid programs will have strict income requirements. The manufacturer states that most Medicaid patients will pay $4 to $9 per month for Trelegy.


Medically reviewed

A medical professional has reviewed this article.

Jamie Winn, PharmD
Jamie Winn, PharmD

Jamie Winn, PharmD

Medical Writer & Reviewer

Jamie Winn, PharmD

Medical Writer & Reviewer

Dr. Jamie Winn received his Doctor of Pharmacy in 2002 from the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Columbia, SC. Jamie is a medical reviewer for NiceRx.

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Sources (7)

  1. Trelegy official website

  2. GSK - pricing information

  3. Drug Patent Watch - Telegy Ellipta patent expiration

  4. FDA - frequently asked questions on patents and exclusivity

  5. Medicare.gov - Copayment/coinsurance in drug plans

  6. National Library of Medicine - Mirabegron in overactive bladder patients: efficacy review and update on drug safety

  7. FDA - the Orphan Drug Act

The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.