Recent articles have prompted questions about the quality of the nation's drug supply. Michael Kopcha, PhD, a registered pharmacist and the director of the Office of Pharmaceutical Quality at the FDA, answers some questions about drug quality.
How does the FDA assure the quality of drugs in the U.S.?
Kopcha: All drugs must consistently and safely provide their intended benefit. To do this, drug manufacturers must meet quality standards that ensure every dose of a drug is of the...
To get the process started, you need to mail an application to the drug company with information about your financial situation. You can usually download an application from the company’s website and fill it out online. In most cases, your doctor will need to provide information about your prescriptions.
The drug company will review the application and tell you if you’re eligible for assistance. If approved, many companies will ship a supply of the drug to your home or your doctor’s office. You or your doctor will need to place a new order several weeks before the supply runs out.
For more information on Patient Assistance Programs, go to RxAssist.org, a non-profit organization that maintains a comprehensive directory of drug assistance programs. You can type in the name of the drug you are taking and it will give you all information on any drug assistance programs, as well as a link to applications.
Assistance Programs Run by States
Currently, about one-third of states have active pharmaceutical assistance programs, typically for people who are elderly, disabled, or in financial need. With the passage of the Medicare Part D drug benefit and more recently, the closing of the Part D donut hole, many states have ended their drug assistance programs.
Assistance Programs Run by Nonprofit Groups
Partnership for Prescription Assistance: A program sponsored by drug companies, doctors, patient advocacy organizations, and civic groups. It helps low-income, uninsured patients get free or low-cost, brand-name medications.
NeedyMeds: A non-profit organization that maintains an extensive database of information about patient assistance programs, state assistance, drug discount programs, and free or low-cost medical care. You can search their database for free on their website. The site also has information on thousands of programs to help consumers through the application process.
RxAssist: An online database of drug company programs that provide free or affordable drugs and co-pay assistance.
Center for Benefits: Provided by the National Council on Aging, this shares information about assistance programs for low-income seniors and young people with disabilities.
RxHope: A web-based resource where you can search by medication to locate assistance programs. They also offer help with the application process.