Black woman using new asthma inhaler for quick relief of symptoms.

Asthma treatment is taking another step forward. A new medication supports treating asthma symptoms and inflamed airways at the same time.

The new treatment option is AIRSUPRA®. The medication involves one inhaler device. It combines:

    • Albuterol, a short-acting beta-agonist (SABA)
    • Budesonide, an inhaled corticosteroid

AIRSUPRA is a quick-relief or rescue inhaler. It is not a daily controller or maintenance inhaler.

AIRSUPRA is prescribed to adults 18 years of age or older. It is for the as-needed treatment of asthma symptoms caused by tightening of the airways. It can also help reduce the risk of an asthma attack.

AIRSUPRA is the first SABA and inhaled corticosteroid combination on the market. The manufacturer is AstraZeneca.

How does AIRSUPRA work?

Albuterol is for the quick relief of asthma symptoms. The medication relaxes airway muscles. It is taken when symptoms flare up.

Inhaled corticosteroids control symptoms. They reduce and prevent swelling and inflamed airway tissue.

Studies show the combination can help by:

    • reducing asthma symptoms
    • preventing an asthma attack

How does AIRSUPRA help people with moderate to severe asthma?

The 2023 Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) supports the use of SABA and an inhaled corticosteroid as a quick-relief treatment for moderate to severe asthma. This approach treats symptoms and inflamed airways.

GINA bases its support on clinical trials. The MANDALA study involved people with moderate to severe asthma. It compared people with asthma who used the albuterol-budesonide combo vs. those who used albuterol alone for quick-relief.

The study found patients using the combo reduced their risk of an asthma attack, both in the short and long term.

plain language summary of the MANDALA study was published in Therapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease in May 2024. The summary is written to be more patient-friendly and accessible to all.

Can AIRSUPRA treat mild asthma?

The DENALI study involved people with mild to moderate asthma. They were given one of the following:

  • albuterol-budesonide combo (AIRSUPRA)
  • albuterol alone
  • budesonide alone
  • placebo

In the DENALI study, patients who used AIRSUPRA had better improvement in their lung function than those who used albuterol or budesonide alone.

Talk with your doctor to find out if AIRSUPRA is right for you.

How often can I take AIRSUPRA?

You can take up to six doses in 24 hours. However, if you continue to experience asthma symptoms, see a doctor or seek emergency care.

Can I stop taking my asthma control medication if I use AIRSUPRA?

No. People who have AIRSUPRA should continue to take their daily asthma controller.

Is AIRSUPRA for children?

AIRSUPRA is only available for adults 18 years of age and older. It is unknown if the medication is safe and effective in children.

What are side effects of AIRSUPRA?

Possible serious side effects include:

    • worsening trouble breathing, coughing and wheezing
    • heart problems, including a faster heart rate
    • weakened immune system
    • bone thinning
    • eye problems

Talk with your healthcare provider right away if you experience any of these symptoms.

Common side effects include:

    • headache
    • cough
    • hoarse voice
    • thrush

How do I obtain AIRSUPRA?

AIRSUPRA is available as a prescription. Talk with your doctor about whether this medication is right for you.

Before filling your prescription, check with your health insurer to see if AIRSUPRA is covered. AstraZeneca says the medication is covered on national formularies for:

    • Express Scripts
    • CVS/Caremark
    • Optum/United Healthcare

AstraZeneca has announced it is capping out-of-pocket costs for AIRSUPRA and their other inhaler products at $35 per month.

In addition, AstraZeneca is offering a copay assistance program for AIRSUPRA. The program is for people who have private insurance that does not cover costs for AIRSUPRA. People who are eligible may be able to pay as little as $0.

If you can’t afford your asthma medication, you have options. Shop around at pharmacies and online for the best price. Contact nonprofit organizations that help the uninsured or under-insured. If you are uninsured, you can call AstraZeneca at 800-236-9933.

Reviewed by:
Bradley Chipps, MD, FACAAI, is a board-certified allergist and pediatric pulmonologist with Capital Allergy and Respiratory Disease Center in Sacramento, California. He earned his medical degree from University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in 1972. He is Past President of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).