Initiative Launched To Provide Access to Prescription Drug Discounts
Pharmaceutical manufacturers on Tuesday announced an initiative to create a "one-stop shop" where uninsured residents can access about 275 private and public prescription drug discount programs, the Chicago Sun-Times reports (Knowles, Chicago Sun-Times, 4/6). The companies said they would spend about $30 million through June to develop and promote the program, called Partnership for Prescription Assistance, which will include a Web site and three call centers to help consumers find drug discount programs (Freking, AP/Long Island Newsday, 4/5).
PPA will provide access to about 1,200 medications (Silverman, Newark Star-Ledger, 4/6). Program eligibility and applications will vary, in part because the companies were concerned that establishing uniform criteria for the programs could violate antitrust law, according to Billy Tauzin, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (Pear, New York Times, 4/6). Patient advocates, community leaders, pharmacists and health care providers collaborated with drug makers on the program (Chicago Sun-Times, 4/6).
Tauzin said, "This is serious business. This is going to be very expensive for the companies, but they're willing to make this commitment to save the free-market system in America."
Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said the initiative is "clearly a public relations response to the widespread criticism concerning the skyrocketing prices that the drug companies continue to charge and to put as warm a face as possible on these growing problems."
Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said, "Helping a subset of the public navigate a patchwork of assistance programs is not a solution, it's a stalling tactic. The best way to help Americans is to charge us fair prices in the first place."
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said, "I don't know how much this program will help, but certainly it can't hurt," adding, "In the meantime, I'll continue to support drug importation as a way to cut costs for American consumers" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 4/5).