Asthma is a worldwide public health problem affecting about 300 million people. The majority of persons living with asthma are in the developing world where there is limited access to essential drugs. The financial burden for persons living with asthma and their families, as well as for healthcare systems and governments, is very high. Inadequate treatment and the high cost of medications leads to disability, absenteeism and poverty. Despite the existence of effective asthma medications and international guidelines, and progress made in the implementation of such guidelines over the last decade, the high cost of essential asthma medications remains a major obstacle for patient access to treatment in developing countries. The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease has evaluated this problem and created an Asthma Drug Facility (ADF) so that countries can purchase affordable, good quality essential drugs for asthma. The ADF uses pooled procurement along with other purchasing and supply strategies to obtain the lowest possible prices. Accompanied by the implementation of standardized asthma management, the increased affordability of drugs provided by the ADF should bring rapid and significant health and cost benefits for patients, their communities and governments.