With the high cost of health care, any little bit of help goes a long way, particularly with prescription drugs. AstraZeneca, a company based in Wilmington, DE, offers a program for various categories of people who are having trouble paying for their medications. (The AstraZeneca (AZ) program is part of the Pharmaceutical Researchers & Manufacturers of America Partnership for Prescription Assistance, an organization touted by talk show host Montel Willams.)
The Partnership has assisted five million patients over the last three years of a nationwide effort sponsored by America's pharmaceutical research companies to help uninsured and financially struggling Americans get access to the medicines they need at almost no cost to them. The PPA provides information on more than 475 patient assistance programs, including nearly 200 programs offered by pharmaceutical companies.
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Ms. Laura Woodin, Manager of Media Relations, explained AZ's program to DOTmed. While AZ's program only covers drugs the company manufactures, because they belong to the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, a patient who calls about another company's medication will get a referral to the appropriate contact. Woodin says that people should go ahead and call even they aren't sure who manufacturers their medication.
Woodin says, "All patients have a health need and this helps to make sure that they lead healthier lives." Top AZ brands that are included in the program include Nexum, Crestor and Seroquel.
Woodin described the three different programs AZ offers. First is the traditional, long-established program is for individuals who earn $30,000 or less a year, or a family of four earning $60,000 or less and are without prescription drug insurance. The patient(s) can receive a 90-day supply of AstraZeneca medicine at no cost while application is processing. Once accepted you are enrolled for one year, after that you can reapply.
Secondly, there is a newer program, AZ&Me(tm) a prescription savings program for people with Medicare Part D and still have problems affording medicine, who earn $30,000 or less or $40,000 or less as a couple. This program offers easy enrollment online or by phone, no enrollment fee, and no more than $25 for typical 30-day prescription. Prescriptions are available at participating local pharmacies.
The third program is AZ's work with a number of community health centers that AZ knows are servicing a large uninsured population. The program provides AZ medicines free of charge to qualifying non-profit organizations. Eligible facilities include disproportionate share hospitals, community health centers, and community free clinics. Woodin says, "We know it would be helpful to offer assistance in prescription all in one place; enrolling the health centers in the program for the uninsured means patients don't have to go to an outside pharmacy but can obtain their medications right away." AZ announced at the end of 2007 new facilities would be enrolled.
AZ has offered drug assistance programs for 30 years, and Woodin says in 2007 alone, the company helped a half-million people fill 2.8 million prescriptions, resulting in 500 million dollars worth of savings. The company's program is growing, and Woodin emphasizes the importance of getting the word out, so that people who are eligible know the program exists. AZ does not receive direct benefits, such as government incentives; Woodin points out the company makes the commitment because people need to access the medications--which otherwise would do no good if patients can't obtain them.
More information on the The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (toll-free, 1-888-4PPANOW; www.pparx.org
For more information on AstraZeneca's patient assistance programs: Visit
www.azandme.com or call 1-800-AZandMe.