Helping patients achieve and maintaingood health through medicationsis a goal that all pharmacistsshare. The profession continues to adoptnew practice models to expand the abilityto provide care, yet some patients continueto struggle to afford their medicines.Unfortunately, approximately 45million people are without health insurancecoverage in this country, and medicationis a "luxury" that some cannotafford. Patients receive no benefit fromdrugs that they cannot take home withthem.
Merck believes that nobody should gowithout the medicines they need becausethey cannot afford them. For this reason,Merck has developed the following programs:
Enrollment is free, and there are nomembership fees for the life of any ofthese programs.
These programs can benefit a tremendousnumber of patients. ThroughMerck's PAP in 2004, the company provided6.7 million free medicines to700,000 people. And, within the firstmonth of launch of the Merck PrescriptionDiscount Program earlier this year,more than 15,000 patients enrolled, andnearly 450,000 downloaded informationfrom the program Web site.
Pharmacists must work with Merck toensure that patients are aware of theseprograms and that they can enroll anduse them with ease and convenience.Pharmacists play an enormously importantrole in helping patients obtain themedications they need. While Merck willcontinue to promote these programsthrough advertising and grassroots outreach,familiarity with these programswill help pharmacists to answer patientquestions and will enhance their role astrusted and reliable sources of information.Merck encourages pharmacists,pharmacy colleagues, and patients to visitwww.merckhelps.com to learn moreabout the programs and to downloadenrollment forms.
Ms. Hoy is the executive director of pharmacy& senior health, Merck & Co Inc.