How Inflation is Impacting the Cost of Medication

By Jacquelyn Buffo, MS, LPC, CAADC

April 25, 2023

Inflation Prescription Costs

There is no denying that the cost of goods and services across the U.S. has increased. If you are one of the many people across the country who have had to tighten up your purse strings due to inflation, you are not alone. Inflation is the overall upward prices of services and goods in an economy. Today, you will hear about specific goods and services impacted by inflation, such as food and prescription medications, and ways to save money on your medication.

Inflation over the years

Inflation changes each year based on several variables. Since COVID emerged in 2020, we saw a decline in inflation from 2019 to 2020. In 2019 the average inflation rate was 2.2, and in 2020 the average rate of inflation was 1.7. In 2021, the average rate of inflation for the year was 3.5, and in 2022 the average was 6.15. Fortunately, we are starting to see a downward trend in 2023 from 2022, with January showing an inflation rate of 5.6, February 5.5, and March 5.6, respectively.

Inflation is cyclical. When the cost of goods and services increases, so does the demand for those goods and services, increasing inflation rates even further. Supply and demand play a role in inflation rates as well. Think back to April 2020 when everyone was panicking over having enough toilet paper during the pandemic. Because of this high demand, the supply was low; therefore, the value of toilet paper increased. Let’s take a closer look at variables that contribute to inflation rates.

Variables that contribute to inflation

As you probably have guessed, inflation isn’t just caused by one singular thing. Rather, it is influenced by many interplaying factors. However, the core of inflation does come down to supply and demand. More specifically, when the demand for goods and services increases more rapidly than the supply of said goods.

Many unique factors influence the demand for goods and services, such as:

  • Supply shocks: When there is a disruption to the supplier or manufacturer of goods—for example, when oil stops being produced as a result of war, the price of gasoline increases.
  • Supply of money: When there is an increase in the amount of money circulated throughout the economic system, people are willing to spend more money on goods and services.
  • Unemployment rates: Believe it or not, when unemployment rates are low, workers are producing, and the economy is operating at near full potential, inflation can occur.

Essential items that have increased in price

If you reflect on the last 1-2 years and think about items that have increased in price, one of the first things that may come to mind is the cost of food. That’s because food prices have increased at above-historical rates. From the good we buy at the grocery store to the food we order at a restaurant, the cost of food has taken more out of our budget than ever before.

Below are some current statistics regarding the increasing cost of food over the last several years:

  • The cost of food rose 9.5% from February 2022 to February 2023.
  • The rate of food purchased at the grocery store has risen tremendously since 2022; in fact, it was 10.2% higher in February 2023 than in February 2022.
  • Food purchased at a restaurant has also increased; the cost of restaurant-purchased food was 8.4% higher in February 2023 than in February 2022.
  • Food prices in 2023 are projected to continue to increase, although not as rapidly as in 2022.
  • Grocery store-purchased food is projected to increase by 7.8% in 2023.
  • Food purchased at restaurants is projected to increase by 8.3% in 2023.
  • Overall, food prices are projected to increase by 7.5% in 2023.

The rising cost of prescription medication

Prescription medication has also been severely impacted by rising inflation. Unfortunately, many Americans have had to pay more for their prescription medication than individuals in other countries. This leads to many people across the country struggling to afford their prescription medications.

Current statistics on the increasing cost of prescription medication in the United States include:

  • In January 2022, the average list price for prescription medication was $150, and in July 2022, that price has increased to $250.
  • Many prescriptions increased their price by more than 500% from 2016-2022.
  • The number of prescription drug increases was highest in 2022 than in any preceding year.
  • The average price increase for many prescription medications from July 2021 to July 2022 was 31.6%.

The increase in medication costs is creating a nationwide crisis for many Americans who need their medication for survival. This is contributing to an increase in stress, which will be explored further.

Stress in America

With the overall economy-wise inflation rate increasing by 6.0% from February 2022 to February 2023, it is important to save money where you can. If you have noticed an increase in stress related to the rising cost of living, you are not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, 83% of Americans polled report inflation as their number one cause of stress, followed closely by the economy (69%) and money (66%). Furthermore, approximately 57% of adults who indicated money was their primary source of stress reported that they didn’t have enough money to pay for necessities such as food, rent, and medications.

Albuterol: What is it?

Albuterol is available by prescription, and it is an essential medication required for individuals who have problems breathing, asthma, or lung disease. Albuterol is used to treat problematic breathing, coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. Albuterol comes in a powder and or aerosol form and is used via inhalation to help improve breathing. It comes in powder, liquid solution, and aerosol form.

Albuterol is in a classification of drugs known as bronchodilators, and it makes breathing easier by relaxing and expanding the airways to the lungs. Albuterol powder for inhalation is also known as Proair Respiclick and is approved for individuals 12 years and older. Albuterol inhalation aerosol is approved in children 4 years of age and older and is approved for adults. It is also known as Proventil HFA, Ventolin HFA, and Proair HFA. Albuterol solution is approved for both adults and children 2 years and older.

The indication for use is every 4-6 hours as needed, and if you use it to help with breathing during exercise, you should use it 15 minutes to half an hour before you begin your exercise routine. Albuterol is ingested by an inhaler in powder or aerosol form. In the liquid form, a jet nebulizer is used to turn the liquid into a mist that can be inhaled.

Keep in mind that albuterol helps treat the symptoms of asthma and other breathing problems. However, it is not a cure for them. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your medication or its usage. If you think albuterol may be an effective part of your treatment plan, talk to your doctor. Together, you will create a treatment plan that is tailored to you and your unique needs.

Related articles:
Does Albuterol Expire? What You Need to Know
Understanding Your Child’s Asthma and Proper Inhaler Technique
What You Need to Know About Asthma

How you can save

If you are looking to save money on groceries, consider joining a warehouse club where you can buy groceries in bulk. Use your freezer to preserve the food you have, and try to limit the number of times you go out to eat. Also, don’t forget to eat those leftovers in the fridge!

If you are looking to save money on albuterol or any other prescription medication, ScriptSave WellRx can help save you up to 80% on your prescription medications. Keep in mind that most people who use ScriptSave’s free prescription drug savings card will save around 65%. The prescription discount card is accepted at a pharmacy near you.

Jacquelyn B. began writing at the age of 10 when she won a county-wide essay contest explaining why her mother is worth her weight in gold. Since that time, she has written for several newspapers and a health and wellness blog. Her education and experience is in mental health and addiction. She is a licensed counselor and currently provides therapeutic services on an outpatient basis. Her counseling and substance abuse experience includes inpatient residential, in-home and early recovery counseling. She is a certified addiction specialist and is working on obtaining her certification in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. She also specializes in working with pregnant and post-partum women and has received advanced training on women's health.


  1. S. Department of Labor. (n.d.). Inflation and consumer spending.
  2. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023). Databases, tables, and calculators by subject.
  3. Harvard Business Review. (2022). What causes inflation?
  4. S. Department of Agriculture. (2023). Summary findings- Food price outlook, 2023.
  5. S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2022). New HHS reports illustrate potential positive impact of Inflation Reduction Act on prescription drug prices.
  6. S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Albuterol oral inhalation.

American Psychological Association. (2022). Stress in America 2022

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