If you’re looking at treatment options for asthma or certain other conditions, your doctor may recommend budesonide (Pulmicort Respules, Pulmicort Flexhaler, Tarpeyo, Ortikos, Uceris foam, Uceris tablet).

It’s a generic prescription drug that’s used to:

  • treat or prevent asthma in some children
  • relieve nasal symptoms of hay fever or other upper respiratory allergies in adults and some children
  • treat or maintain remission (being symptom-free) of mild to moderate Crohn’s disease in adults and some children
  • treat active mild to moderate ulcerative colitis in adults

Certain brand-name versions of budesonide are used for the following purposes. There is no generic budesonide available for these uses.

Budesonide belongs to a group of drugs called corticosteroids. It comes in the following dosage forms:

  • a liquid suspension that you breathe in using a nebulizer
  • a nasal spray
  • an inhaler containing powder that you breathe in through your mouth
  • delayed-release capsules that you swallow
  • extended-release tablets that you swallow
  • foam that you put in your rectum

The form you use will depend on the condition you’re treating. Your doctor will prescribe the right form of budesonide for your condition.

Keep reading for details on budesonide and cost, and how to save money on prescriptions.

Note: For details on budesonide tablets, see this in-depth article. To learn more about the other forms of budesonide, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

The price you pay for budesonide can vary. Your cost may depend on your treatment plan, your insurance coverage, and the pharmacy you use.

To find out how much you’ll pay for budesonide, talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance provider.

Note: If you have insurance, you may need to get prior authorization before your insurance provider will cover budesonide. This means your insurer and your doctor will discuss budesonide in regard to your treatment. Then the insurance company will determine whether the drug is covered.

If budesonide requires prior authorization and you don’t receive it before you start treatment, you could pay the full cost of the drug.

Be sure to ask your insurance company whether budesonide requires prior authorization.

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about budesonide and cost.

Is the budesonide form for nebulizers more expensive than the inhaler form?

It depends. Only one of these forms comes as a generic, and that form is only prescribed to children.

For preventing or treating asthma, budesonide comes as a liquid solution for use in a nebulizer or as a powder contained in an inhaler. The liquid solution is prescribed only to some children. The inhaler is prescribed to adults and some children.

The inhaler form of budesonide is only available as the brand-name drug Pulmicort Flexhaler. Brand-name drugs are usually more expensive than their generic versions. (For more information, see the “Is budesonide available as a brand-name drug?” section below.)

Generic budesonide does come as a liquid solution for use in a nebulizer. Note that you’ll need to purchase a certain kind of nebulizer for this form of budesonide, which may affect the total cost of treatment.

If you have questions about the cost and coverage of these forms of budesonide, contact your insurance provider. If you don’t have insurance, ask your doctor or pharmacist what your out-of-pocket cost might be for these forms of budesonide. (Out-of-pocket cost is the price you’ll pay without insurance or discounts.)

Will my price for budesonide 3-mg capsules depend on the dosage my doctor prescribes?

It’s possible. The cost of budesonide 3-milligram (mg) capsules will depend on the dosage your doctor prescribes. For example, if your dosage is higher, such as 9 mg per day, the cost may be more.

If you have questions about the cost of your prescription, ask your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance provider.

For treating asthma, how does the cost of budesonide compare with the cost of budesonide/formoterol?

It depends. The price can vary based on whether a form of generic budesonide is available for treating asthma. For example, adults with asthma would have to use the brand-name Pulmicort Flexhaler to treat their condition. There is currently no generic form of budesonide available for this use in adults.

For treating asthma, the combination drug budesonide/formoterol comes as a generic as well as the brand-name drug Symbicort.

Other factors may affect the price of these drugs, such as the pharmacy you use and whether you have insurance.

To find out which of these drugs is best for treating your asthma, talk with your doctor. If you have questions about the cost of these drugs, ask your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company for more information.

How much does budesonide cost without insurance?

It varies. The cost of budesonide without insurance may depend on where you fill your prescriptions and what form of budesonide your doctor prescribes. For example, budesonide nasal spray can be purchased over the counter (without a prescription). If you have questions about the price of other forms of budesonide, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

For a few resources that may help you cover the cost of budesonide without insurance, see the “Can I get help paying for budesonide?” section below.

Budesonide is a generic drug. This means it’s an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. A generic is considered to be just as safe and effective as the original drug. And generics generally cost less than brand-name drugs.

Budesonide comes in several brand-name versions: Pulmicort Respules, Pulmicort Flexhaler, Tarpeyo, Ortikos, Uceris foam, and Uceris tablet. All of these brand-name drugs have generic versions of budesonide except for Pulmicort Flexhaler and Tarpeyo.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Pulmicort Flexhaler to treat or prevent asthma in adults. The FDA has also approved Tarpeyo to reduce proteinuria in adults that’s caused by primary immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN). The FDA has not approved generic versions of budesonide to treat these conditions.

To find out how the costs of generic budesonide and brand-name versions compare, talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance provider.

If you’ve been prescribed budesonide and you’re interested in using the brand-name version instead, talk with your doctor. They may prefer that you take one instead of the other. In addition, you’ll need to check with your insurance provider. This is because it may only cover one drug or the other.

Why is there such a cost difference between brand-name drugs and generics?

Years of research and testing are needed to ensure that brand-name drugs are safe and effective. This testing can make the drugs expensive.

The manufacturer of a brand-name drug can sell the drug for up to 20 years. After that, other drugmakers can create generic versions. This competition in the market can lead to lower costs for generics. And because generics have the same active ingredients as brand-name drugs, they don’t need to be studied again. This can also lead to lower generic costs.

If you take budesonide long term, you may be able to lower your costs in the following ways:

Look into getting a 90-day supply of your medication. You may be able to get a 90-day supply of budesonide if approved by your insurance company. This could reduce your number of trips to the pharmacy and help lower the cost of budesonide. If you’re interested in getting a 90-day supply of this drug, talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance provider.

Use a mail-order pharmacy to get your medication. Using a mail-order pharmacy might help lower your cost of budesonide. Plus, you could get your medication without leaving home. Some Medicare plans may help cover the cost of mail-order drugs. You may also be able to get a 90-day supply of the drug through mail order.

If you don’t have health insurance, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to suggest online pharmacy options that could work for you.

If you need help covering the cost of budesonide or understanding your insurance, check out these resources:

On these sites, you can find insurance information, details on drug assistance programs, and links to savings cards and other services.

There are also financial assistance resources online for a couple of brand-name versions of the drug:

If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

If you still have questions about the cost of budesonide, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to give you a better idea of what you’ll pay for this drug. But if you have health insurance, you’ll need to talk with your insurance provider to learn the actual cost you’d pay for budesonide.

Examples of questions you may want to ask your doctor or insurance provider include:

  • Does the dosage form of budesonide affect its cost?
  • Are there other drugs for treating my condition that cost less than budesonide?
  • What can I do if I can’t afford my medication?

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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.