Medicine Assistance

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

For those of you who are considering doing without your prescription medications because you have no drug insurance or your drug insurance doesn't cover the drug, there are options for you. I work with a local medicine assistance program and we currently help over 2000 patients. With the recession, we have begun taking on about 10-12 new patients weekly as well.

Drug companies charge a fortune for their newer drugs, especially the ones that are patented. Of course once the patent expires, generics are made and priced much cheaper. But until then, how will you afford that $150/month RX?

Research your drugs and find out who the manufacturers are. For instance, Benicar (a popular blood pressure med) is made by Sankyo. Check their website for a patient assistance or medicine assistance application or call them and ask about it. Your doctor might be able to point you in the right direction. He may even a patient assistance specialist in his office.

Most programs require that you fall under certain income guidelines AND have no RX insurance. Some will accept patients that have Medicare/Medicaid which doesn't pay for all of the meds.

Usually you'll have to fill out an application and your doc will have to sign the form and include a RX. And then every two months you'll have to reorder the med. A few companies do an auto-ship for about a year, but most companies require that you call in refills every couple of months. Most companies send a 3 month supply at once. So when you start that last bottle, call in your refill to the drug company. It can take 2-6 weeks for the meds to arrive so give yourself plenty of time with calling in refills. Also, most companies ship to your doc's office where you'll have to pick it up. A few ship directly to you, but they're rare. Most companies will require your date of birth and Social Security number when you call in. And some will also require the RX # that they printed on your last order.

Some pharmaceutical companies have cards you can use at the pharmacy. Johnson and Johnson, I think, sends you the pharmacy card and you just go there and get the med free. Some companies a while back joined together to offer the Share card (don't know if they still do that but you can google it). It included several of the more popular pharm companies. One company had the Orange card several years ago. I don't know if they did away with the card or not. Most companies just require you to fill out an application and meet their guidelines. Each company has different guidelines, so don't get discouraged if you don't meet one company's guidelines; you might meet another's. And some of them have an appeal process too where you can claim a hardship.

BE AWARE OF SCAMS!!! Some companies want to charge all sorts of fees to get you the drugs. The drugs are usually free, so any fees for processing should be minimal. Our office charges $2 per drug each time we order it, so $2 every 3 months usually. Of course, if you can't pay the $2, it's no problem. We do fundraisers to earn the money we need.

Another company, RX Outreach (which you can find online), charges about $20 or so per drug, but they often get you a 4 month supply at a time. We refer clients to them if we can't help them due to ineligibility for our program. They'll send you a list of all the drugs you can get thru them.

Do NOT pay $50, $100, etc. to anyone who claims they're getting you the meds free and will file appeals on your behalf. You can actually do all that yourself for NOTHING. I can't remember the name of the scamming company online that strings you along, charging you more and more and still not getting your drugs. But "free" drugs should not cost you a fortune.

Also, be aware that Walmart and Kmart have $4 generic drugs. You can go online to their sites and see a list of the $4 meds. If you cannot afford your drugs and don't qualify for assistance any other way, talk to your doc about a comparable generic. I was taking an antibiotic Trimethoprim which had gone up to $35. I talked to my doc about a comparable drug and he said Bactrim DS is the same thing, but only $4 at Walmart. I switched. I also get a double dosage which I can cut in half. So I end up with a 2 month supply for $4 instead of a one-month supply for $4.

With Walmart's $4 generics, they're $4/month OR $10 for a 3 month supply and they'll even ship them free if you wish. You will have to request that your doc order a 90-day supply at a time, instead of a 30-day supply at a time. And no, a 30-day supply with 2 refills is not the same. That's still a 30-day supply at a time, 3 times. You'll want a 90-day supply at ONE time to get the $10 rate.

Also, your doc often gets "samples" and can supply you. Anytime he starts you on a new drug, ask for samples you can try to be sure the drug will work for you before you invest money in it. If you can't get the drug thru a med assistance program, ask if he'll continue giving you samples. If he cares about you and wants you to take the drug, he'll usually offer the samples indefinitely if the company will supply him.

You may have other programs in your area too, so don't give up. Call your senior citizens group, area agency on aging, social services, your church, local hospitals, etc. Someone will know what is available in your immediate area.

If you need any help, Dmail me. If you're in Ark, TN, MS, or MO, I can send you one of our applications. But with us, you must have NO drug insurance at all--no medicare Part D or medicaid or private drug insurance.

There's help out there for you. Don't do without vital drugs simply because of cost.

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