Shopping for Drugs: 2007

Studies | Health

No. 293
Thursday, November 16, 2006
by Devon Herrick, Ph.D.


Financial Assistance to Lower Drug Costs

There are programs to assist patients who must pay some or all of their drug bills.  In addition to smart shopping, patients can save by taking advantage of these opportunities.

Pharmaceutical Company Assistance Programs.  Many drug companies have programs to assist low-income, disabled or elderly individuals.183  For example, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance is a national organization of drug companies, physicians and patient advocates.  Qualifications vary but generally include uninsured individuals earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.  Patients who want to find out if they are eligible can begin on the Web site www.pparx.org.  Patients can check to see whether or not a medication they are taking is part of a low-cost partnership program or patient assistance program.  Multiple medications can be entered and a simple form assesses eligibility.  Some people may be eligible for a patient assistance program for a specific medication.  Or they may be eligible for a low-cost drug card discount program, which patients can use at their local pharmacy. 

One discount drug card program is called Together Rx Access.  The program is free and covers more than 150 different drugs. Participating companies include Novartis, Abbott, AstraZeneca, Aventis, Ortho-McNiel, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline and Janssen.  Eligibility is limited to those who do not qualify for Medicare and do not have drug coverage through a public or private program.  Income cannot exceed $30,000 for an individual, $40,000 for a family of two, $50,000 for a family of three or $60,000 for a family of four.  Most participants save 25 percent to 40 percent on brand-name drugs.184 

"Many states and drug companies have programs to assist with drug prices."

State Drug Assistance Programs.  Almost three-fourths of U.S. states have created or authorized a drug assistance program for low-income, elderly and/or disabled patients.  Three-fifths of the states provide direct subsidies, while two-fifths offer drug discounts.185  In addition, all states provide drug subsidies under the Medicaid program.  Patients can find out if they qualify for a government or private drug assistance plan by filling out the questionnaire on the Web site of the National Council on Aging (http://www.benefitscheckup.com/).


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