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Patients Get Help Paying for Pricey Prescriptions

When pricey prescriptions outstrip the budget, some patients can get relief through the drug companies' patient assistance programs.
Patients Get Help Paying for Pricey Prescriptions

We have been writing about high drug prices for decades, but the problem of prescriptions outpacing patients’ ability to pay for them has only gotten worse. The pharmaceutical industry has recognized this problem. As a goodwill gesture, many companies offer poor patients help paying for their pricey prescriptions. One reader wrote to remind us of these programs:

Q. A woman wrote to you recently about not being able to afford her husband’s medications for diabetes. Their choice was food or medicine.

Drug Companies Help Out

I just wanted to let your readers know that many of the major pharmaceutical companies have programs to help folks who cannot afford their drugs. My mother receives her heart medication Tikosyn and cholesterol-lowering medicine Zetia for free using these programs. All that is needed is usually a form to be filled out by her doctor and it is renewed each year.

My son receives a rebate on his Remicade infusion that helps with his co-pay. Such programs make vital medications available to folks who couldn’t afford them otherwise.

First Aid for Sticker Shock Due to Pricey Prescriptions

A. Patient assistance programs (PAPs) have long been available. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) is a trade organization of leading brand name drug companies. It acts as a clearinghouse to facilitate access to free brand name medicines at www.pparx.org.

The catch is that one has to pass rather stringent eligibility requirements. People have to be uninsured, not on Medicaid or Medicare Part D, and have a very low income to qualify (Innovations in Pharmacy, Vol 3, No. 1, 2012). That excludes a large portion of the population, even people who find it very difficult to afford their pricey prescriptions.

People who do pass the strict PAP eligibility requirements can benefit, but they will find it helpful to recruit their doctors as allies in this effort.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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