Billy Tauzin: Lending a hand to the uninsured

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Helping people live longer, healthier, more productive lives: that's what America's pharmaceutical research companies do on a daily basis. But it doesn't stop there. For the millions of Americans who don't have health insurance, or who don't have adequate prescription drug coverage, the industry is offering a helping hand to those lacking access to the life-changing benefits of many prescription medications.  

The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA), a national program sponsored by America's pharmaceutical research companies, in concert with more than 1,300 local, state and national partners, is committed to helping those in need.

The PPA provides a single point of access to more than 475 different programs. Many of these programs can help people who qualify get their medicines free or—at the very least—nearly free. It is an ambitious national effort to help low-income, underinsured and uninsured patients get the necessary medicines their doctors prescribe.

The PPA has already helped more than 2.6 million people nationwide, and that number is growing every single day.  Patients who are still unsure about what help they may qualify for can call the PPA's toll free number, 1-888-4-PPA-NOW, or visit www.pparx.org. 

America's pharmaceutical research companies remain dedicated to ensuring that patients have access to the life-saving medicines the industry has discovered and developed. PhRMA member companies have long sponsored their own patient assistance programs to help patients get the medicines they need. These assistance programs have helped millions of people over the years. In 2005 alone, PhRMA member companies provided more than 36 million free prescriptions, worth an estimated $5.1 billion wholesale, to low-income, underinsured or uninsured Americans.

However, PhRMA member companies also recognized that more could be done to reach patients in need and help them connect with assistance programs that would work for them. That is why the PPA was launched in April 2005, and in January 2006 the “Help is Here Express” national bus tour was formed to further increase awareness of the PPA.

The tour has two specially equipped and staffed buses that serve as traveling education and information centers. The tour stops at hospitals, health clinics and community centers to help patients contact the PPA and to teach healthcare professionals more about what they can do to assist low-income patients in getting the medicines they need. The buses have already visited all 50 states, and nearly 500 cities across America, and we plan to have them visit many more to continue raising awareness of patient assistance programs.

For people who wonder how they're going to get the medication they need without  prescription drug coverage, healthcare providers have an answer and it starts with: “Let me tell you about the PPA.” Thankfully, resources are available for many of those patients and America's pharmaceutical companies are going to continue to be part of the solution for people who are in need and have nowhere else to go.

Billy Tauzin is president and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

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