NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 5, 2005

Many health clinics that serve low-income patients do not participate in prescription drug assistance programs sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry because they are too complex and cumbersome, reports David Schwab of the Newark Star-Ledger.

Citing a study by the American Journal of Health System Pharmacy, which surveyed more than two hundred clinics across the country, Schwab reports that:

  • Forty-eight of the clinics did not use assistance programs sponsored by pharmaceutical companies; two-thirds of these said the programs were too time-consuming and complex and 17 percent said they were unaware of such programs.
  • The largest problems cited were inconsistent eligibility criteria and application procedures, unexpected revisions, and unrealistic requirements to document income.

The study also found that staff members at the clinics surveyed spent an average of 111 hours monthly on work with assistance programs sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and 9 percent actually paid for help to submit applications.

Last year, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry trade group, reported patient assistance programs provided consumers 22 million prescriptions with a wholesale value of more than $4 billion. That was up from 18 million prescriptions worth $3.4 billion in 2003.

Source: David Schwab, "Study Questions Formula for Free Medicine," Newark Star-Ledger, March 31, 2005.

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