Ailing Economy Fuels Growing Need for Free, Reduced Rxs--March 2009


As the country faces an ailing economy, free prescription drug programs are seeing an influx of demand.

More and more Americans are turning to free or reduced prescription drug programs as they feel the brunt of the economic crisis. With millions of jobs being lost and taking health coverage with them, many are left unable to pay for their prescriptions. Even those fortunate enough not to be among the ranks of the 4.4 million who are unemployed may be caught in a tight spot when it comes to getting their necessary meds. Families are being forced to cut back on expenses, and seniors face the gaping reality that is the Medicare Part D doughnut hole.

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA), an organization run by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), said that people seeking help in obtaining medications are flooding the group with requests. The PPA runs the “Help Is Here Express,” a traveling enrollment center that tours the country with the mission of spreading awareness and increasing participation in patient assistance programs. In recent times, patients have been forming long lines at every stop, waiting to board the bus and use computers and cell phones that will help them determine eligibility for prescription programs, reported PPA. The buses make appearances at health clinics, state fairs, senior centers, and community events, connecting patients with providers from a list of hundreds of participating public and private programs.

The number of uninsured Americans is estimated at 40 million to 50 million, and although President Barack Obama is promising major reductions in the costs of health care, countless individuals and families cannot wait for the changes to arrive.

“No one’s helped by a medicine that sits on the shelf and is out of reach financially,” said Billy Tauzin, PhRMA president and chief executive officer. “We’re going to keep on reaching out across America as long as there are people who need our help.”

As of last year, PPA helped close to 5 million individuals nationwide since its inception in 2005.

For other articles in this issue, see:

Oxycodone Shortage Leaves Pharmacies in Short Supply

Weak Growth in ’08 Rx Sales

Pharmacists: Educate Patients on Medication Poisonings

Congress Looking to Pass Health Care Reform This Summer

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