Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) announced today that it is launching its own co-payment assistance program for Reyataz (atazanavir) and Sustiva (efavirenz) starting April 30.

BMS is working with Gilead Sciences, its partner in the manufacture and sales of Atripla (efavirenz, tenofovir and emtricitabine), to offer co-payment assistance for that medication soon. Videx EC (didanosine) and Zerit (stavudine) are not included in the co-payment program.

The program is designed for people who have private health insurance and high co-payments for their HIV medication. People will be responsible for paying the first $50 of their total co-payments involving an antiretroviral regimen containing either Reyataz or Sustiva. The BMS program kicks in after the first $50 and covers up to $200 per month for one year. This would reduce the co-payment for a person who currently pays $275 at the pharmacy each month to $75.

Federal law prohibits companies from offering co-payment assistance to people who are eligible for Medicaid, Medicare and AIDS drug assistance programs (ADAPs). The Massachusetts law that created statewide mandatory health insurance also prohibits companies from providing co-payment assistance to anyone in that state.

People should be able to pick up a card for the program at their doctor’s office or pharmacy after April 30. People can also contact the Access Virology program after April 30 at BMS (888.281.8981) to obtain a card by mail. BMS is working to get small specialty pharmacies and mail-order businesses to accept the card, but says it might take a little longer for those types of businesses to join the program. If people have trouble getting their pharmacy or mail-order business to accept the card, people can contact Access Virology to get reimbursements for their co-payments after April 30.