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Medicines on the Cheap(er)

There are some lower-cost alternatives to imported drugs if you look for them.

Assistance Programs

Many people, however, take prescription drugs for which there are no generic equivalents available in the U.S., generally because they are still under patent (the original maker of a drug has the exclusive right to market it for 20 years after the first patent for the drug is filed). Yet the prices for many of these drugs may be out of reach for many patients who have to pay out of pocket.

Many of the major pharmaceutical companies offer some form of low-cost or no-cost program for patients who meet financial eligibility criteria. In addition, as of this writing, 39 states offer some form of pharmaceutical assistance program.

 

  • Information about state programs can be found at the web site of the National Conference of State Legislatures, at http://www.ncsl.org/programs/health/drugaid.htm.
  • The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a drug industry lobbying organization has launched a web site with interactive tools that can help patients identify assistance programs that may pay some, most, or all of the costs of medication, depending on financial need. The address of the secure site is https://www.helpingpatients.org/Intro.php.

Consumers using these sites or who apply for financial aid should be aware that the companies may ask for detailed information about financial and employment status.

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Reviewed on September 16, 2004

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