Kentucky Prescription Assistance Program Benefits 1 Million Patients


Most pharmacists have had the unfortunate experience of assisting a patient who's unable to afford a prescription medication.

Most pharmacists have had the unfortunate experience of assisting a patient who’s unable to afford a prescription medication.

Rising prescription drugs costs and the greater number of individuals who need assistance with paying for medications are the major reasons Drug Assistant, a software and services company focused on patient assistance programs, helped implement the Kentucky Prescription Assistance Program (KPAP).

In Kentucky alone, there are 604,000 uninsured individuals, 200,000 Medicare recipients who lack prescription coverage, and 239,400 employees who don’t receive prescription benefits through employer medical benefit plans. To fill this prescription coverage gap, Drug Assistant was tapped to create the statewide KPAP.

KPAP is based on a successful community prescription assistance program model developed by HEART USA, a nonprofit volunteer organization in Paducah, Kentucky. Using innovative computer technology to streamline operations and reduce paperwork, Drug Assistant increased public access by implementing KPAP across Kentucky in May 2009.

KPAP is operated by an extensive network of advocates and volunteers to help keep costs down. After a volunteer enters a patient’s demographic, medical, and financial information, Drug Assistant’s KPAP computer system matches the patient’s medication needs with available prescription drug assistance plans operated by pharmaceutical companies. The system then generates application forms for those programs.

If the patient is accepted into the programs, prescription drugs are distributed through non-pharmacists or mailed to the patient. The KPAP computer system can also handle renewal applications for each assistance program.

KPAP has proven to be a huge success, thanks to Drug Assistant’s user-friendly interface and the system’s ability to obtain up-to-date information on assistance programs. In addition to reducing burdensome paperwork for patients and saving time, KPAP has generated more than $375 million in free or reduced-cost prescriptions for qualified Kentucky residents. With an annual budget of $600,000, the program surpassed $100 million in savings during its first 2 years of operation.

Those numbers don’t even come close to explaining the impact KPAP has had on the health of the nearly 1 million low-income Kentucky residents who qualify. By obtaining the prescription drugs they need, these residents are benefiting from better physical and financial health and are less likely to experience uncontrolled chronic disease, unemployment due to poor health, or debt related to prescription drug costs.

As the costs of—and need for—prescription drugs continue to increase, more states will likely follow Kentucky’s footsteps to create their own prescription assistance programs. KPAP is an excellent example of how the pharmaceutical and medical industries can expand an existing, small-scale model by leveraging ever-improving technology to provide assistance to a greater number of patients. By keeping a lookout for new partnership opportunities, health care technology companies will continue to help solve social problems and improve the lives of many patients.

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