Tauzin Praises PhRMA Prescription Drug Assistance Program
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America President and former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) on Tuesday said that about 240,000 people have received less-expensive or no-cost prescription drugs in the first 100 days of PhRMA's prescription assistance program, the Los Angeles Times reports. Tauzin spoke at a press briefing in advance of PhRMA's upcoming announcement on self-imposed limits on prescription drug advertising (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 7/27).
Tauzin said that about 600,000 people have been "matched" to one of 475 industry and government pharmacy assistance programs on which PhRMA provides information through its Partnership for Prescription Assistance. Of those, 300,000 people have completed the paperwork for the programs, Tauzin said (CQ HealthBeat , 7/26).
PhRMA's program offers a call center and Web site through which consumers can directly apply for prescription assistance programs that offer discounted or no-cost drugs to people with no prescription drug coverage and an annual income less than 200% of the federal poverty level (Los Angeles Times, 7/27).
Tauzin said the program has been a "huge success" but added that "millions more could enroll in these programs if only they knew they existed." He said PhRMA will spend "tens of millions" of additional dollars to advertise the program (CQ HealthBeat , 7/26). Tauzin noted that drug companies provide more than $4 billion in no-cost drugs annually for about six million patients (Los Angeles Times, 7/27).
American Academy of Family Physicians President Mary Frank, who joined Tauzin at the press conference, said, "There are probably six million more who could benefit if we reached them," adding, "I know from my own practice that most patients either don't know about prescription assistance programs or don't realize they qualify. That's why this effort is so critical and why we need to raise awareness" (CQ HealthBeat , 7/26).
Tauzin said PhRMA's advertising guidelines, which will be announced next week, will not include a moratorium on direct-to-consumer advertising for new drugs, CQ HealthBeat reports. Tauzin said drug companies will focus on educating doctors before new drugs reach the market and improving the way they inform consumers about side effects.
While Tauzin "wouldn't rule out" a moratorium, PhRMA's release last week of preliminary guidelines did not mention delaying DTC ads for new drugs, CQ HealthBeat reports. Tauzin did not say what steps the industry would take to educate doctors or further elaborate on the guidelines (CQ HealthBeat , 7/26).