Web site can serve as ‘one-stop-shop’ for drugs

Pharmaceutical company-sponsored programs give more than $3 billion annually to needy patients

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Millions of Americans have turned to the Internet for more affordable drug prices, but they may be surprised to learn that for millions of consumers the best deals are available from pharmaceutical companies in the form of patient assistance programs.

In a continuing effort to help doctors and an estimated 6.2 million low-income patients take advantage of free and significantly discounted drugs, America’s pharmaceutical companies are launching a Web-based tool on www.helpingpatients.org that provides easier and faster access to more than 400 different medications through the 40 different patient assistance programs offered by the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture those medications. Patient assistance programs have been supported by the industry for many years and continue to grow, but this site gives patients and health care providers “one-stop-shopping” for the various programs.

The site’s new feature, “Fast Access,” allows patients or their health care provider to enter data once. That data is then fed to the various assistance programs to determine where there might be a match for that patient. All applications must be approved by the patient’s health care provider, so patients may use the tool, print out the forms and then work with their health care provider to submit the applications or the health care provider may handle the entire process for the patient.

“Many of the people served by our members can benefit from this program,” said a spokesman of the National Medical Association, the nation’s largest association of African-American physicians. “This is a great tool to help ensure that all of our patients get safe and effective medications.”

The site hosted by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) also includes an online database of patient assistance programs that provide help for millions of people who lack prescription drug coverage. In addition to the programs mentioned above, the database created and funded by the pharmaceutical industry also provides patients with information regarding 1,000 more medicines offered through more than 100 other industry-sponsored programs and 185 government and privately-sponsored patient assistance programs.

“We talked with patients and doctors alike about how we can make the process of applying to patient assistance programs simpler, faster and easier,” announced Miles White, PhRMA’s chairman of the board of directors and chairman and chief executive officer of Abbott Laboratories, at PhRMA’s Annual Meeting on April 3. “We listened, and now we are acting on what we have learned.”

In 2003, patient assistance programs helped more than 6.2 million underinsured or uninsured patients obtain nearly 18 million prescriptions. The estimated wholesale value of medicines distributed though company patient assistance programs last year totaled almost $3.4 billion.

“We know that many people have difficulty getting the medicines they need; this is one important piece of an answer,” said PhRMA President and CEO Alan F. Holmer.

Medicines available through the program include many of the newest and most innovative brand-name treatments available, including medicines that treat the following:


High cholesterol


High blood pressure




Alzheimer’s disease

Consumers can access these programs and download a free copy of the patient assistance program directory at www.helpingpatients.org, or at PhRMA’s Web site www.phrma.org. PhRMA also publishes a printed version of the Directory of Prescription Drug Patient Assistance Programs, which lists programs, the companies that offer them, available medicines, basic eligibility requirement and contact persons.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA members invested an estimated $33.2 billion in 2003 in discovering and developing new medicines. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures.

PhRMA Internet Address: www.phrma.org.

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