Pfizer Offers Free Medications to Unemployed

Published August 1, 2009

The nation’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer, Pfizer, has launched a program to provide prescription drugs to the growing number of Americans currently out of work.

Under the program, called Medicines Assistance for Those Who Are in Need (or “MAINTAIN”), Pfizer will provide several medications free of charge to individuals who have lost their jobs and have been prescribed a Pfizer medication for the past three months.

The program, which officially launched in June, covers 70 Pfizer medications, including cholesterol and arthritis drugs. Many of the drug manufacturer’s top-selling products, including Lipitor, Celebrex, and Viagra, are being made available through the program.

Household income will not be a factor in determining eligibility for MAINTAIN benefits, and unemployed workers’ dependents also will be covered under the program.

‘Just Trying to Do Our Part’

“The program was first suggested in early April by an employee, not management,” said Ray Kerins, Pfizer’s vice president of public relations. “We are just trying to do our part in helping those in need.”

Jim Shaffer, president of the West Virginia Public Policy Foundation, praised Pfizer’s program as an example of the private sector voluntarily solving problems more quickly and effectively than government can.

“Without any force from our government, Pfizer has created a model solution to a major health care concern during a downturn in the economy,” said Shaffer. “Capitalism gets unduly bashed despite providing great solutions in time of need. This shows there is a moral component to capitalism that often gets overlooked, and Pfizer understands that.”

Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, noted Pfizer’s action is much more efficient and far less costly than government actions have been.

“Pfizer’s generous efforts to help their struggling customers should contrast favorably with the heavy-handed and costly federal efforts to ‘stimulate’ our nation’s economy by digging our children and grandchildren further into debt,” said Gessing.

“Pfizer’s MAINTAIN program is only the latest effort by companies and other businesses to make their products more affordable for consumers and patients,” Gessing noted.

Getting the Word Out

Kerins notes the company has implemented other such programs in the past.

“Pfizer is no stranger to prescription assistance programs, having over 70 years of experience developing and implementing such programs,” said Kerins. “We are going to health care leaders, physicians, and the general public to get the word out.

“Qualifying individuals will receive their medication in the mail, as this is a convenient and easy way for those that depend on the reliability of the program,” Kerins added. “Individuals interested can register by filling out a simple one-page form found on the Web site.”

Pfizer also is allowing individuals to register by phone, where a live representative will guide them through the process.

Rikin Shah ([email protected]) writes from West Virginia.

For more information …

Pfizer’s Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs: