Medicare-eligible senior citizens and disabled Americans without prescription drug coverage need not wait for Congress to act on a drug benefit. Millions of Americans already take advantage of prescription drug discount programs offered by the private sector.
Forty-eight U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers, under the auspices of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), offer prescription drug discount cards and patient-assistance programs. In 2002, PhRMA members provided free prescription medicines to more than 5.5 million patients in the United States. More information is available on the Internet at http://www.phrma.org, or contact PhRMA at 1100 Fifteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20005; telephone 202/835-3400.
Together Rx, a consortium of eight drug makers, offers about 150 brand-name drugs at 15 percent off the manufacturers’ wholesale list price. The Together Rx plan is available to individuals with annual incomes of $28,000 or less and families with annual incomes of $38,000 or less. More information is available on the program’s Web site, at http://www.togetherrx.com/, which reports “over 1,021,392 cardholders have saved more than $202 million to date.”
The Share Card offered by Pfizer Inc. is available with no annual fee to low-income Medicare recipients. Patients enrolled in the plan can get Pfizer prescription drugs at a cost of $15 for up to a 30-day supply. For more information on the Share Card plan–already used by 250,000 patients–call 800/459-4156, or visit the plan Web site at http://www.pfizersharecard.com/.
Eli Lilly‘s discount drug program, LillyAnswers, makes available all Eli Lilly drugs except controlled substances and those not distributed by retail pharmacies. Plan participants pay $12 for a 30-day supply. Medicare-enrolled seniors and persons with disabilities are eligible if they do not have other prescription drug coverage and meet annual income requirements: $18,000 or less for individuals, and $24,000 or less for households. The plan currently enrolls 100,000 patients. More information is available on the Internet at http://www.lillyanswers.com/ or toll-free at 877/795-4559.
Called the Orange Card, GlaxoSmithKline‘s discount drug program provides an average 30 percent savings on all outpatient prescription drugs made by the company. Orange Card is available to senior citizens and disabled persons enrolled in Medicare with annual incomes of $30,000 or less (individuals) and $40,000 or less (households). Enrollment in the program, which currently has 100,000 participants, is free. More information is available on the Internet at http://us.gsk.com/card/ or by calling toll-free 888-672-6436.
Novartis, a founding member of the Together Rx alliance, offers the Care Card. Plan participants with annual incomes less than $18,000 (individuals) and $24,000 (couples) pay just $12 for a 30-day supply of selected Novartis medicines. Participants with higher annual incomes–up to $28,000 for individuals and $38,000 for couples–can receive discounts of between 25 and 40 percent off selected Novartis medicines. The Care Card program currently enrolls 15,000 patients. More information is available on the Internet at http://www.careplan.novartis.com/index2.html.
Conrad F. Meier is managing editor of Health Care News. His email address is [email protected].