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Savings on Drugs

Medication costs can take a big bite out of your pocketbook. An estimated 80 percent of retirees use a prescription drug every day; among people with Parkinson’s, the percentage is undoubtedly even higher. About 30 percent of seniors do not have any kind of insurance to cover drugs at the time in their lives when it is most needed.

Although it's not widely publicized, pharmaceutical companies have programs to help people who can't afford their prescriptions. Some programs allow a patient to prepare his or her application independently, while others may require the support of a physician or social worker. (Note: these programs are usually limited to brand-name medications, not “generics”.)

Outlined below are details about some of these assistance programs.

GlaxoSmithKline (makers of Requip, Paxil, Wellbutrin, and other drugs) offer a new “Orange Card” program to assist low-income seniors. You may be eligible if:

  • You are one of 11 million seniors aged 65 and older who have no prescription coverage, or
  • You are disabled and enrolled in Medicare with an annual income that is no more than three times what the federal government defines as poverty-level income ($26,000 for a single individual or $35,000 for a couple), and if you lack public or private prescription drug coverage.

Eligible patients can realize an average savings of 30 percent – some, event 40 percent on the usual price paid for outpatient GSK medicines. To find out if you are eligible for the Orange Card program and to get your application, call the toll-free number (888) 672-6436.

The “Pfizer for Living Share Card” offers eligible patients (over 65 and on Medicare), for a co-payment of $15, a 30-day supply of Pfizer medicines. To be eligible, patients must be able to show an income no higher than $16,000 if single, or $25,000 if a family. Call (800) 717-6005 or check www.pfizerforliving.com.

Also from Pfizer is the “Sharing the Care” program, offered though a network of more than 380 federally funded community, migrant, and homeless health centers across the country. Since its inception in 1993, “Sharing the Care” has helped more than two million patients by providing six million prescriptions valued at more than $330 million. For information call the toll-free number (800) 984-1500.

In August 2002, the Parke-Davis and Pfizer assistance programs joined forces to launch “Connection to Care” which provides free Pfizer medications for chronic health care conditions among low income, uninsured patients. At the time of press, no Parkinson’s-specific medications are listed but new drugs are constantly being added to the list; call (800) 707-8990 for further information.

To redeem a 20-40 percent discount on 200 medications made by any of the following - Novartis, Astra Zeneca, Abbott, Aventis, Bristol Myers, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceuticals or Orthomcneil - join the “Together-Rx” prescription saving program. The scheme is free of charge and open to anyone who is on Medicare; who has an income of less than $28,000 for singles, and $38,000 for a couple; and who has no other prescription coverage. Call (800) 865 7211 or visit www.together-rx.com for further information. Parkinson’s medications listed at time of press include Sinemet®, Sinemet CR®, Comtan®, Parlodel® and Requip®.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) is offering a new online database that will help patients without prescription drug coverage get access to user-friendly information about more than 1,400 medicines offered free through patient assistance programs sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry and others. To do your own research, go to http://www.helpingpatients.org. You can also call their hotline, (800) 762-4636, and ask for the Directory of Prescription Drug Patient Assistance Programs.

Your doctor can help you apply for these programs, with conventional forms or at www.rxhope.com, an industry-funded site that lets your doctor fill out applications online for instant approval.

Other websites you might want to check: www.needymeds.com, www.aarppharmacy.com and www.destinationrx.com.

There are also services available that can handle the legwork for you. For $5 (per medication that is researched), the Medicine Program, (573) 996-7300, www.themedicineprogram.com, will investigate drug-company programs and send you a completed application form to be signed by a doctor. At www.medicaldiscounts.com, (800) 771-3325, you can get the same service for $7.

Special thanks to Nina Brown, from the Houston Area Parkinson’s Society for her assistance in reproducing this article.