Pharma to the Fore
by Tim Horn
If you’re uninsured or struggling with prescription co-pays, pharmaceutical company programs might be able to help.
Do you lack health insurance but make too much money to qualify for government assistance? Are your prescription co-payments so high that you can’t afford other basic necessities? Help may be available from pharmaceutical companies in the form of patient assistance programs (PAPs) and co-pay programs.
Drug manufacturers have long maintained PAPs to help those who can’t afford their drugs. To qualify, recipients must prove that they have exhausted other options such as government programs and cannot afford private health insurance. They must also meet certain financial criteria, which will largely depend on personal income.
Several companies have also introduced co-payment assistance programs, available to people who have private health insurance with steep prescription co-pays. For example, GlaxoSmithKline’s Patient Savings Card program offers up to $100 per month in co-pay assistance for each GSK-product prescription for people who meet its eligibility criteria, starting with the first dollar that a person pays. If a person normally pays $100 a month in co-pays for a regimen consisting of Lexiva ($25), Norvir ($25) and Epzicom ($50), the Lexiva and Epzicom will be fully covered, reducing out-of-pocket expenses from $100 to $25 a month.
While co-pay programs do help, advocates caution that they’re only one aspect of choosing treatment wisely. Since the programs are not all the same, with some being more generous than others, some people may lean toward one regimen simply because it’s more affordable. “I hate the idea of people choosing drugs because it’s what they can afford,” says Lynda Dee of AIDS Action Baltimore, “but it’s better than not picking up the drugs at the pharmacy at all.”
Click here to download a copy of the Pharma Financial Programs chart.
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