Free Medicine Program Provides Prescription Drug Assistance

While the political battle over affordable health care rages on, one group of volunteers is showing people how to reduce-or even eliminate-their prescription drug costs.

No, we're not talking about the new Medicare program, which has got at least some seniors scratching their heads trying to figure out how much they'd save by signing up for discount prescription drug cards. Nor are we even talking about controversial efforts-including those by some governors and members of Congress-to circumvent the current ban on importing cheaper drugs from Canada.

Instead, we're talking about a group that helps people take advantage of patient assistance programs that already provide free prescription medicines to more than 6.2 million Americans, according to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which represents the country's leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies. Millions more could benefit from these programs-but don't even know it.

That's one reason for the Free Medicine Program, as it's called. Not only does it help people decide which private or pharmaceutical company program would be best for them, but it also aids in dealing with the ever-changing requirements and often daunting application process needed to qualify for these programs. That process alone can ordinarily be extremely tedious, confusing and time-consuming.

To help its members, the program processes their information and sends them customized packages, prepared specifically to meet their individual needs. The members get a letter for their physicians (the assistance of a doctor has significant bearing on acceptance in the program) and information on the application process. The completed papers are sent to the appropriate drug manufacturers for approval. Once a member is approved, the free medicines generally arrive in two to three weeks.

There's a one-time processing fee of five dollars, which is refunded to anyone who can't get medicines free of charge through the program.

You can apply for help and learn more about the program online by visiting the Web site at or calling (646) 205-8000.

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