Free Prescription Drugs Available for Many

Many seniors and others are suffering from the escalating prices of prescription medicines. What many patients who require medication do not realize is that many drug companies have programs in place which give away millions of dollars worth of drugs each year.

The drug companies tend not to completely reveal the income criteria for patients being giving access to the free drugs and patients must work in concert with their doctors to be eligible. Because of the amount of paperwork and time involved in some requests, many individuals who would otherwise qualify for programs do not take advantage of them.

If you're a do-it-your-selfer there are at least two places where you can find information about which companies participate in free prescription drug patient assistance programs.

The first is The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. They now have a 2001-2002 directory of prescription drug patient assistance programs. The directory lists companies alphabetically by company so you need to know what company manufactures your medicine. Under each entry you will find information about each program available, how to request assistance, what medicines are covered and minimum eligibility requirements.

This information is in Adobe Acrobat format so you must have a current Adobe Acrobat reader to read the file. They suggest at least version 4.0. Click here to access the directory.

The second is the government's M edicare site which provides information by company, by drug, and by disorder or condition and tells you basically what you have to do to in each case to apply. You will also find information about any state programs available.

If you would like help in applying for a free medicine program you can visit The Medicine Program's web site or call them at 1-573-996-7300 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST Monday-Friday.

Basically, you fill out a form which lists your name, address, phone number, name of medication, and name and address of your doctor. You send the form to:

The Medicine Program
P.O. Box 515
Doniphan, MO 63935-0515

There is a $5 processing fee for each medication applied for to help offset costs of providing the information. The Medicine Program says the fee is refundable if you are denied help by the drug provider.

Please be sure you meet these minimum requirements before sending in this form. It will help you avoid disappointment later on.

  • The applicant must have no insurance coverage for outpatient prescription drugs.
  • The applicant must not qualify for a government program which provides for prescription medication, e.g. Medicaid.
  • The applicant's income is at a level which causes a hardship when the patient is required to purchase the medication at retail.

Qualifications for each program are set by the individual program sponsor and vary from below the national poverty level to $60,000 for some patients on AIDS or cancer medication. Most programs apply household income standards as opposed to individual income standards. If in doubt, apply.

Once the basic information reaches The Medicine Program they will send the applicant back an information packet containing a letter addressed to the applicant's doctor asking for his/her cooperation and providing them specific information for each medication requested. It will also include access numbers the doctor will need to use when contacting the program sponsor. Your doctor's cooperation is vital to this process and you will not be able to receive help without their support. You must sign this letter and carry or forward it to your doctor immediately.

You will receive full instructions with your packet which must be followed to give you the best chance for success. In some cases the doctor will need to write a letter to the company involved, in other cases some companies accept applications by other means.

If your application is approved, within approximately three weeks, in most cases, your medicines will be sent to your doctor. The normal quantity is a three month supply, but each program has its own standards. Keep copies of all correspondence and forms sent in and copies of all correspondence you receive from the company. This will be important if you apply for refills.

The Medicine Program admits it can not guarantee approval by a company, but will refund the processing fee if you are rejected for the programs. You must notify them within 90 days of rejection by a program and send them a copy of the rejection notice.

This program is run predominantly with volunteers and has helped many people. If you apply to the program and have a success or a problem, please let us know.